Police officers frequently deal with stressful situations, including foot and vehicle pursuits, missing children and their frightened parents, and service calls such as burglary, robbery and domestic violence. Those looking to join the ranks of the courageous men and women who wear a badge must prove they can perform an officer's duties by making it through the police academy. In addition to job-specific training and coursework, cadets must also complete a series of fitness tests.
Physical Ability Examination
Many state police academies conduct exercises to test the physical ability of the enrolled cadets. A typical physical examination will consist of a list of exercises, such as pushups and sit-ups, that each cadet must complete in a specified amount of time to graduate from the academy. The standard by which the performance of these events is measured varies according to the particular police academy.
Some police academies will require a different standard of completion for female cadets than for male cadets, while others will break down the physical ability requirements of each cadet based upon age range. In the Louisiana State Police Academy, a male cadet between the ages of 20 and 29 must run 1.5 miles in 15 minutes and 8 seconds, and perform 30 sit-ups and 18 pushups, whereas a female cadet between the ages of 30 and 39 must run 1.5 miles in 20 minutes and 13 seconds, and complete 15 sit-ups and 6 pushups. A cadet in the Alabama State Police Academy--regardless of age or gender--must complete a 1.5-mile run in 15 minutes and 28 seconds, and perform 25 sit-ups in 60 seconds and 22 pushups in 60 seconds.
Physical Agility Course
Some police academies also assess each cadet's physical agility by placing the cadet in a series of realistic, yet extreme, situations. A typical agility course is timed, and spread over a distance of several feet. The cadet will run down the course performing various maneuvers such as pushing a vehicle for a particular distance, climbing a fence, climbing through a window and walking a balance beam.
Medical Examination and Drug Screening
Cadets also must report for a medical examination performed by a licensed, contracted physician, which includes a drug screening and psychological evaluation. In assessing the cadet's fitness, the examining doctor checks the cadet's ability to grasp visual field and depth, as well as color and hue perception. The examining doctor will also evaluate the cadet's ability to hear normal to high-pitch frequencies, and capacity to make apprehensions and protect herself from attack. Any conditions that impede a cadet's visual and aural abilities, or his ability to withstand high levels of stress or physical activity may, for purposes of passing the medical examination, call his physical fitness into question.
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