Melissa M. Uftring1, J. Jay Dawes1, Robert G. Lockie2, Robin M. Orr3, Charles L. Kornhauser4, Ryan J. Holmes4 1Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK; 2California State University, Fullerton, CA; 3Tactical Research Unit, Bond University, Robina, Queensland, Australia; 4Colorado State Highway Patrol, Lakewood, CO

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) are often called upon to perform physically demanding tasks as part of their normal job duties. When these tasks are performed in succession, great physical demands can be placed on the LEO. Subsequently, physical fitness is generally considered important to the occupational performance of LEOs. Physical ability tests (PATs) are frequently used by employers within physically demanding occupations to determine an individual’s ability to perform essential occupational tasks. Trainees and qualified officers need to understand the physical fitness demands associated with successful performance in each component in order to be physically prepared to perform PATs and related occupational tasks. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether significant differences existed between high, average, and low performers on an occupationally specific PAT based on fitness, sex, and anthropometric characteristics among state patrol officers. METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of 275 LEOs (females, n = 19; males, n = 256). Physical fitness measures included: body fat % (BF), vertical jump (VJ), sit-and-reach test (SR), 1-minute sit-up (SU), 1-minute push-up (PU), and 2.4 km run time (2.4R). The PAT consisted of several tasks, such as a simulated pursuit, victim drag, vehicle push, traversing an embankment, low crawl, and barrier jump. A principal component analysis was utilized to determine differences in performance between high, moderate and low performers on the PAT. Where possible, the data were also analyzed by sex. RESULTS: The statistical analysis revealed that lower dynamic fitness (demonstrated by performance in the 2.4R, SU, PU, &VJ), in addition to BF explained 50% of the variance in PAT performance between groups, with flexibility explaining an additional 15% of the variance. PAT performance was also predicted by 2.4R in both sexes, and also by 2.4R, SR, SU, and age in men. CONCLUSION: Physical fitness relates to a number of occupational demands in LEO. When designing programs to assist LEO with improving their performance on PAT and occupational tasks, strength and conditioning professionals should focus on developing aerobic capacity, trunk muscular endurance, and whole-body anaerobic power.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: There are no professional relationships with companies or manufacturers who will benefit from the results of the present study.

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