Every chance there’s an open opportunity, numerous individuals across the entire country decide to uphold the law and pursue a career in law enforcement as police officers. Long before obtaining that shiny new badge and taking an oath vowing to serve and protect, each of these potential officers must first undergo and pass a rigorous police fitness test designed to test the extent of their physical attributes. The tests, known as the Physical Ability Test or PAT, is made up of a wide variety of exercises and is extremely regulated.
It’s common knowledge that police officers are always equipped with firearms, but what is less known is the numerous restrictions placed on the use of those firearms. Officers are ONLY allowed to use firearms as a last resort in a situation where a suspect poses an immediate threat to the officer, another individual, or in some cases, themselves. With that in mind, chasing down and subduing subjects while preventing any harm to themselves would require the officers to be in great shape.
Due to the fact that being a police officer is a dangerous job on his own, being out of shape would only increase that danger by 10-fold. To prevent putting anyone in any unnecessary danger, it has been mandated that all potential candidates satisfy the fitness requirements prior to moving forward in the hiring process. This helps ensure that the aspiring officers are qualified to handle the physical demands associated with this field of work.
To assist candidates who are currently out of shape with passing the PAT, numerous programs known as Police Officer Preparedness Programs have been created. It is recommended to follow one of the programs for at least 8 to 12 weeks prior to taking the physical exam. Doing so has proven to be extremely beneficial for many candidates.
What Physical Demands Should Be Expected?
If being required to pass a mandatory physical ability tests wasn’t enough to illustrate how physically demanding being a police officer is, this next bit of insight is sure to do so. This is a profession where a person puts their life on the line every day. A body and fitness level that reflects that is maintained by performing physical activities that most people would only want to spectate. Push-ups, sit-ups, bench pressing, and light cardio are child’s play in comparison.
Expect to chase down suspects on foot over long distances through busy streets, narrow alleyways, or any other environment required all while dodging cars, hopping fences, maneuvering around bystanders, and other obstacles. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll still need the stamina and strength to subdue and/or fight off the suspect. It is not uncommon for a suspect to fight an officer as opposed to flee from one, especially if under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
On their own, foot chases and subduing bad guys might not sound like such a big deal. That view easily changes once you factor in all of the gear you’ll be wearing while doing so. Police officers don’t just show up to work in hoodies, sweats, and a nice pair of running sneakers. Their uniforms consist of multiple gadgets and protective wear that can add bulkiness and additional weight ranging anywhere from 20 – 60 pounds. Running, jumping, and sprinting all have to be done with the added weight. Try maintaining peak agility in those conditions. Furthermore, these working conditions can cause constant perspiration. Showers don’t come until the end of the shift.
It becomes clearer to see why physical fitness is taken so seriously. Unfortunately, year after year many officers those their lives while serving in the line of duty. Others, face an increased risk of developing numerous injuries ranging from physical disabilities such as back injuries to more extreme ailments such as cancer. A healthy body doesn’t always prevent these conditions, but it definitely helps reduce them.
The police physical fitness tests given all over the country to police candidates has been designed to not only test your strength but your stamina and mental abilities well. Just being physically strong won’t cut it. You have to display great endurance, so remaining motivated will assist in completing the tests. On the day of the test, it’s best to perform as if your life actually depends on passing it. In all reality, your life as a police officer actually does.
Preparing for the Test
The easiest way to raise your chances of successfully passing the police agility test is to actually prepare for it. It is highly recommended to work on the parts of the test that you will likely find the most challenging. On top of that, you should work on developing your upper and lower body strength along with improving your stamina.
Although each state has its own specific requirements for the police academy fitness tests, they all share the same goal in common: ascertaining your physical qualifications for the job by pushing your body to test your reflexes, agility, and instincts. Since the requirements to pass the fitness test vary from state to state, it’s no surprise that the activities on the tests vary from state to state as well.
It is best to note that the activities performed during the PAT are directly related to law enforcement duties as mandated in a document known as “Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures”. This document is strictly adhered to buy all academies regardless of state. Only the most qualified candidates will be selected to endure the harsh demands of daily police work.
Know the State Requirements
As previously mentioned, each state has its own special requirements for passing the PAT. To further increase your chances of passing the test, you should find out the requirements in your state. This information can be easily obtained by simply visiting the state’s police website. In the event the requirements aren’t listed directly on the website, instructions on where and how to obtain the requirements should be listed. If by chance the police website is down, you can call your local police department to get further assistance and possibly training materials.
It suggested to hold off on all training for the PAT until you know for sure exactly what the requirements will be. You don’t want to waste time training for activities that might not be on the test or risk getting injured performing exercises that weren’t needed in the first place.
Although various PAT exams exist, typically they consist of about three parts. The three parts are physical ability testing, obstacle courses, and calisthenics assessments. The physical ability tests usually consist of a run that is measured in either distance or by time however, both are possible. The obstacle courses are probably the most demanding part of the tests. They are used to gauge your abilities in different scenarios. As for the calisthenics assessment, a variety of exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups are used to measure physical fitness levels. Each exercise can be timed or have a set number of repetitions that need to be performed.
Being a police officer is a very honorable career to have. Putting your life on the line to ensure the safety of others is an admirable quality. This is one of the few jobs that doesn’t get easier the more you do it, so you have to make sure that your body is qualified to take on the challenge. Passing the physical ability test is the first obstacle you’ll need to overcome before you’re allowed to protect and serve others. Like most things, it’ll be a lot easier if you’re prepared for it. Hopefully, this article has given you all the information you need to properly do so. Now go and start your prep work. Good luck.