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Nelson wants Guam's peace officers to make the grade

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New legislation could lighten the load on public safety officials unable to pass a fitness test. This morning, Senator Telena Nelson met with the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.

At issue - a fitness standard that by year's end could compromise public safety on island.

No sugar coating here Senator Nelson asked, "When was this approved? This law. The current PFQT standard. What year?" She clearly disappointed that Guam's peace officers dropped the ball at meeting a physical fitness standard they chose and adopted three years ago. "We can come up and we can say, we're not ready, we're going to lose half of our force, but this was three years in preparation. So that's one concern of mine," she said.

Though good intentioned - to keep our men and women in uniform in top physical shape - current Guam law jeopardizes public safety.

Those who can't pass the fitness test by the end of the year will get benched - lose their certifications and potentially their jobs. Rather than lose half of the force from every public safety agency, the POST Commission has worked with Nelson's office to draft an interim standard which was accepted by the commission today.

The current standard mirrors the U.S. Air Force. That test includes a 1.5-mile run, pushups, situps, and a waist circumference measure.

Nelson's Chief of Staff Pete Mesa explained they listened to concerns and loosened requirements to reflect the challenges which is why they cut the waist measure, cut the run down to 1-mile, and added an additional minute to some age brackets. "That's an average between the three different, or the four different and I came up with these times," he shared. "The addition to all of this is I was trying to analyze the situation, about an individual at 60 years of age."

Chief of Police JI Cruz, although on board with the interim standard, proposed each agency create their own fitness requirement dependent on their mission. "The research and development team should come up with the standard that's agency specific," he said.

Cruz, who was voted the new Chairperson for the POST Commission today, hopes to have agency-specific fitness standards drafted by July 2018 and implemented by July 2020. Senator Nelson said, "I truly support allowing the POST commission to determine their own standards for their agency.  I truly support that. That makes perfect sense."

Nelson's legislation will be introduced in a few short days.

The POST Commission, meanwhile is set to meet again on August 31.

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