Another great piece at MTI – about not conflating ‘wellness’ with fitness.
While this is speaking truth, the reality is that the forces of political correctness versus truly professional leadership, the attitude of reducing standards in the interest of allowing access, and so on and so forth, wouldn’t deign to allow anything like a high jeopardy performance test. In the last twenty years I have seen fitness standards that previously were in existence reduced or eliminated to allow for more people to “pass,” increasing the risk for both those that were given – versus earning – a “pass” and everyone else around them.
This state of affairs will not change until we change the way the public thinks about law enforcement. Demands more composure borne of physical and technical ability alongside those de-escalation skills, and higher levels of fitness so that those de-conditioned and unskilled officers don’t feel they have to shoot people because they can actually fight and control a situation, and aren’t gassed within a minute’s time because they have no base in combat conditioning.
“Wellness” is simply more politi-speak used in place of talk and fitness standards, in the guise of addressing the obvious issue, without actually ever doing anything about it. And thereby not offending anyone or being forced to hold people accountable.
Bureaucrats, versus leaders, specialize in this kind of thing.
It shouldn’t be. Being fitter is always being a better version of oneself. Fitness is a neutral concept. Its benefits and application doesn’t change based on color, gender, creed, or senescence. Fitness is a public health issue of an importance very much recognized, yet an officer safety issue pretty much ignored.
A fitness standard is a fitness standard, period, and it should apply in ALL first responder professions. It should be high jeopardy, because what they do is high jeopardy for other people that are relying on them.
This is particularly true for specialized teams with even higher jeopardy roles. If your SWAT team has a standard, the old dogs need to pass it just as do the eager pups. The “Up and Out” policy the author describes is relevant only when the aging tactical officer can’t keep up. While it is certainly true that some teams may have those “legacy” members, it is a very different thing to have a few gray wolves fully embracing higher jeopardy and still leading from the front of the pack.
In fact, that is exactly what we want, gray wolves that can still lead the way, because trust me – just about the last thing you want on a professional tactical team is the “younger athletes on the front lines.”
While athleticism has nothing to do with tactical acumen, fitness absolutely does equal armor. Training for fitness is practicing resilience, mental and physical toughness, commitment, and will power. All of those are a huge force multiplier for the tactical proficient.
Over the years more than one officer tell me they would do well in a survival situation because they “had the Will to Win.” How do you know you have the Will to Win if you don’t even have the will to work out?