"Law enforcement executives who fail to incorporate fitness and health programs in their management strategy create significant liability exposures for their agencies as well as health risks for their employees." — Senior Law Enforcement Official
The primary function of health and fitness program in a public safety agency is to ensure the physical readiness of its incumbent workforce. When administrators consider a program they often assume it must include mandatory standards. Standards will ensure that all members are performing at a minimum level of ability; a program will ensure the success of those standards. It is for this reason we recommend clients consider a program first if they anticipate resistance in implementing standards. If the way to mandatory standards is clear, then we suggest a multiple year implementation phasing-in some elements of the program – e.g. incumbent standards, and immediate execution of others such as in-service education.
What Should a Program Look Like?
In 2002 the National League of Cities’ (NLC) captive reinsurance facility, NLC Mutual Insurance Company, partnered with several law enforcement organizations to form a national Task Group to study the issue of health risk and health-related disability in law enforcement and to develop possible responses. Initial Task Group participants consisted of :
- Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies
- Fraternal Order of Police
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- National Sheriffs’ Association
- National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
- International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training
- Police Executive Research Forum
- American Society for Law Enforcement Training
- NLC Mutual Insurance Company
The Task Group held its initial meeting on August 21, 2002 at CALEA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.
After much consideration and deliberation the Task Group concluded its efforts with the drafting of a generic Voluntary Law Enforcement Fitness/Wellness Model Program. The Task Group envisioned an easily adaptable model, which would be universally viewed as positive and in the best interests of both law enforcement agencies and their personnel. The final version of the model was adequately flexible to permit some expansion by its users to incorporate incentives or other measures should the adopting agency deem it appropriate.
Current CALEA Position
In 2009, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) adopted a standard requiring all agencies would have in place a fitness and wellness program. The standard is below.
22.3.3 The agency has a written directive that addresses a fitness and wellness program which includes:
- Mandatory or voluntary participation by agency personnel
- A trained program coordinator
- Individual health screening and fitness assessment
- Individual education and goal setting
- Ongoing support and evaluation
Commentary: A fitness and wellness program has two main elements. The first is physical performance, i.e., the development and maintenance of physical performance capability to satisfactorily perform job tasks and personal activities. The second is the individual’s present health status as well as the risk for future disease. This is impacted greatly by lifestyle choices, including smoking, nutrition, weight, stress management, inactivity, etc. The agency should also consider incentives to encourage employee participation.
We have identified a number of elements that agencies consider in a physical readiness program. Within this document we explain the components of a program:
THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A TOTAL FITNESS PROGRAM
- A Trained and Well-Oriented Leadership
- Program Coordinator
- Health screening
- Fitness Assessment
- Goal Setting
- Ongoing Support
- Phase-In Plan
- Standards (optional)
Please contact us if we can be of assistance in your early planning stages, update efforts, or ongoing development of your public safety physical readiness program.