July 9, 2008 — The V.I. Police Department is implementing a new physical ability obstacle course, teaching it now to training officers, called "cadres," who will then be instructing their police and police auxiliary cadets.
St. Croix media attended a demonstration of the new obstacle course Tuesday morning at the Patrick Sweeney Police Headquarters, hearing an explanation of the rationale behind the new training system and seeing several officers — and one television studio intern — sprint through the course for the cameras.
"In years past, the VIPD had its applicants practice what I would call a physical fitness test," said VIPD Training Director Douglas Jones. That test focused on pushups, sit-ups and other standard callisthenic fitness measures, he said. Between 50 and 60 percent of applicants failed that test initially, Jones said, and it was also a poor measure of what the Police Department needed from its officers.
"So we are implementing a physical ability test, simulating the activities actually done by officers in the course of their duties," he said. "It begins and ends in the police vehicle."
Officers start behind the wheel, and at the click of the stopwatch unbuckle their seatbelts, get out of the vehicle, remove a utility belt, then begin running. After running 200 yards, they begin a routine typical of a military obstacle course, running over a series of low hurdles, climbing a low wall, sprinting a short distance and crawling under bars set about 18 inches above the ground. All the while, they have to hold a weighted baton.
Immediately after this effort, they have to pull a large, heavy dummy, simulating pulling an injured officer or civilian out of harm's way. Then they sprint back through the obstacle course, pick up a revolver and fire it six times, to see if the officer can still properly pull the trigger and fire the weapon after heavy exercise.
The sand-filled dummy checks in at 180 pounds of very dead weight. The officers running the course agreed the dead-man carry was the most demanding part of the course.
In Miami, trainees have to complete the course in six minutes, four seconds or less, said Kelly Kennedy, one of several instructors from the Miami-Dade County Police Training Bureau who flew into St. Croix to train local officers in the system all this week.
"This is the best test of job-related physical fitness," Kennedy said.
Local officers agreed.
"The introduction of the new course is good for new officers," Senior Training Cadre Gleston McIntosh said. "And those already operating in the field can benefit from improved training too."
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.