City of Colorado Springs / Police / News

CSPD a Culture of Fitness
Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 09:00AM [RELEASE AT WILL]

The Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) is pleased to announce the establishment of a physical standards testing program in 2014 for all sworn employees.  Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the officers who completed the testing process were successful.  Chief Carey credits the success to the officers’ commitment to their safety and that of the community.  He also believes that the department’s extensive research, planning and thoroughness contributed to the success.

In December 2009, a committee was established to examine the feasibility of re-implementing a department physical fitness standard.  The committee was comprised of representatives from the City Attorney’s Office, Risk Management, Occupational Health, Human Resources, and police officers.  The officers represented various ages, races, and gender.  The committee was co-chaired by Commander Thor Eells and CSPD Administrative Services Manager Sue Autry.  The primary goal was to create a program which established a minimum physical fitness level necessary to perform the duties of a police officer.  Additionally, the department hoped to reduce costs related to injuries, lost wages, and workers compensation claims.  Chief Carey stated, “The bottom line is that physical fitness is necessary for the safe and effective performance of critical and essential job functions required of an officer.”  To achieve these goals the test needed to be job-related and validated.

To accomplish this, the department contracted with Human Performance Systems (HPS), a Maryland based company.  HPS had extensive experience in designing and validating physical fitness tests for a variety of law enforcement agencies.  To create this test, HPS developed a Task List after having conducted preliminary job reviews, site visits, and focus group interviews from each officer rank.  HPS then undertook a Task Inventory which broke a variety of physical tasks into categories such as lift/carry, push/pull, climbing, communication, etc.  Each task was then rated on frequency, expectancy to perform, importance, and time spent.  Supplemental questions were also included that further defined the physical requirements of the job.  Officers from throughout the department, to include all ranks, completed these extensive questionnaires.  HPS collected and reviewed all of this information to complete a Job Analysis Summary.

Following the job analysis, HPS then created Physical Performance Predictor Tests and Job Performance Criterion measures.  A group of 115 officers of all ranks, ages, gender, and ethnicity participated in a battery of exercises to measure strength, speed, and cardiovascular fitness in order to provide this data.  HPS then reviewed this data and confirmed its validity by applying multiple regression and test fairness analysis.  HPS also analyzed Multiple Hurdle and Compensatory Scoring Models.  A strong emphasis was placed on avoiding any adverse impact on any particular officer population.  To ensure the fairness and equity of this test, the department and HPS spent over a year collecting and analyzing the data and formulating a final test.  The test is comprised of push-ups, sit-ups, Illinois Agility Run, and BEEP run.

In an effort to implement a culture of fitness amongst its members, the CSPD worked with locally based National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) to train approximately 75 officers as peer fitness facilitators.  These officers work throughout the department on various shifts.  This allowed officers easy access to a facilitator for advice and guidance.  The NSCA was also made available to officers, upon their request, for assessments, program development, and personal training.  These services were provided at a minimal cost to the officer. 

In the second quarter of 2013, all CSPD officers participated in a mandatory practice test.  The purpose was to gather data on performance and help officers gauge their level of fitness.  This awareness gave officers an idea of any area needing improvement.  CSPD worked closely with Penrose-St. Francis health experts to set up a fitness program for officers.  Through Penrose-St. Francis, officers had access to workout facilities, nutritionists, as well as fitness and motivational trainers at no cost.  This program was made available to officers for all of 2014.

In December of 2013, after careful consideration and review of the data, Chief Pete Carey made a decision to adopt the test as a mandatory requirement for applicant and incumbent officers.  All officers would be required to pass the physical fitness test during the fourth quarter of 2014.  This timeframe was selected to afford all officers at least a year to attain a minimum level of fitness needed to successfully complete the test.

The Colorado Springs Police Department is proud to be on the cutting edge of developing a fitness requirement that will yield dividends to our community.