Another great piece at MTI – about not conflating ‘wellness’ with fitness.
While this is Truth, Reality is something different.
The forces of political correctness bring with them an attitude of reducing standards in the interest of allowing access, and wouldn’t permit anything like a high jeopardy performance test. In the last twenty years I have seen fitness standards previously adhered to reduced or eliminated altogether to allow for more people to be “successful,” increasing the risk for both those that are given – versus earning – a pass, as well as everyone else around them.
This state of affairs will not change until we change the way the public thinks about law enforcement. Demands more physical and technical ability alongside those de-escalation skills, and higher levels of fitness so that de-conditioned and unskilled officers don’t get overwhelmed and feel they have to shoot people because they can actually fight and control a situation.
“Wellness” is simply more politi-speak used to replace fitness standards, under the guise of addressing a glaring issue without actually doing anything about it. Thereby not offendng anyone, or being forced to hold people accountable, or to exclude them.
Bureaucrats, versus leaders, specialize in this kind of thing.
It shouldn’t be this way. Fitness is a neutral concept. Its benefits and applications don’t change based on color, gender, creed, or senescence. Being fitter is being a better version of oneself. Fitness is recognized as a public health issue of staggering importance, yet as an officer safety issue, it is 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 – mainly for the people that rely on them to respond.
This is particularly true for specialized teams with still higher jeopardy. The old dogs need to pass the SWAT physical standard just as do the eager pups. The “Up and Out” policy the author describes is relevant only when the aging tactical officer can no longer 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 still leading the pack.
In fact, that is exactly what we want, gray wolves leading 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, as the article says, fitness absolutely does equal armor. Fitness training is training resilience, mental and physical toughness, commitment, and will power. All of these are force multipliers for the tactical professional and first responder.
Over the years more than one officer has told me they would do well in a survival situation because they “had the Will to Win.”
And how, exactly, did they know they had the Will to Win, if they didn’t even have the will to work out?