AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department is now requiring all of its officers to pass a physical fitness test. It's a policy the department has not had before which may be surprising to some given the physical demands of some of the calls officers answer.
"Let's go guys," said Senior Police Officer Jason Wolf who trains cadets. He's making sure this modified cadet class is ready to hit the streets of Austin. The men in the group used to serve with other agencies and are working their way into APD.
Part of the training involves rowing machines. The machines are similar to what DPS troopers use when their physical fitness is tested.
"The various things we have to do like climbing stairs and even running after people or maybe even fighting," said Wolf about what requires endurance.
"Some say it's fairly easy some say it's difficult," said Ken Casaday who serves as the president of the Austin Police Association.
Starting this month APD put a fitness test in place for all of its 1800 officers. The test involves the rowing machines and is based on gender and age according to Casaday.
"We support the program we just feel like the department has gotten a little out in front of itself we would have liked to have had a medical physical before," said Casaday.
While many officers take it upon themselves to stay fit APA wants to see time set aside on duty to exercise and maybe even an incentive based program.
Casaday says there is some concern but overall a healthier department is a better department. The test is not pass or fail and there is a grace period.
"It's important to the association and the department you be able to handle your calls, make back up and support your officers," said Casaday.
Every call is different and officers know that some may be more physically demanding than others.
The test became available in March and Casaday says officers will take it over at DPS.