Standards should be one element of a public safety Physical Readiness Program. The primary function of a standard is to predict the physical readiness of agency personnel. The training and programming work together with the standards to ensure the physical readiness of all sworn members. This premise seems pretty straightforward, but the issue of standards, particularly for incumbent personnel, can be affected by emotion, misinformation, or ill will. Perhaps one or more of these will sound familiar:
"Fitness standards are too expensive."
"We can't put another obstacle in place; we can't fill our recruiting goals now!"
"Standards will eliminate too many females."
"Our collective bargaining unit will never allow it."
Or perhaps, “They can’t do that; I didn’t have standards when I started the job.”
- Public safety officers (PSO's) are called upon to perform important, often critical physical job tasks.
- PSO's physiological capabilities and readiness directly relate to their effectiveness, their safety, and the safety of their fellow officers as well as the public they serve.
- It is incumbent upon the public safety agencies and their communities to ensure a physically ready work force.
The rationale for standards – applicant or incumbent is predicated on these basic assumptions:
To draw an analogy: a firearm is a tool that a police officer may need to use in the line of duty; a specific skill set relates to the ability to use a firearm in the line of duty; therefore it is incumbent upon the employing police agency to ensure its personnel can effectively use a firearm.
The next reasonable question then becomes ‘What will the standards look like?’ However, some basic information to frame future discussions may be helpful.
- A standard is a score on a test that has been determined to measure the minimal amount of the factor measured by the test (a fitness factor or performing a job task) that is required to do the job.
- Job-relatedness of a test and test score (standard) means that meeting the test standard is predictive of being able to perform the essential functions of the job (job tasks). If a test measures a factor that has no to relationship to performing the essential functions of the job (job tasks) or if meeting the standard does not predict the ability to perform the essential functions of the job (job tasks) it is not job related. Both the test and the test score used as a standard must show job relatedness.
- Job-task Simulation Test
- A job-task simulation test is a test that measures the ability to perform a specific physical task of the job such as pushing a car, jumping a fence, etcetera.
- Physical Fitness Test
- A physical fitness test measures an underlying physical factor or “ability” that determines the capability to perform strenuous job tasks.
- Physical Abilities Test
- A physical abilities test is the same as a fitness test. However, that term has been misused to also describe a job-task simulation test.
- Agility Test
- An agility test measures a specific fitness factor or motor skill called agility (the ability to move quickly and change directions). However, that term has been misused to also describe a job-task simulation test.
- Norm or Percentile Score
- Norm or percentile score is a score point for given test that is based on a norm profile of a group of people tested. It is not based on any kind of job-relatedness i.e. the prediction of the ability to perform essential functions of the job.
We understand the proposition of contracting for a validation study may seem daunting, and a number of issues must be addressed when an agency begins deliberations. To assist in this process, we have compiled a list of issues as well as our position on each. Please take your time in reviewing these issues and acquainting yourself with the FitForce Consultant Team.
We view the contracting for validation services as the beginning of a relationship between the client and our consultant. After reviewing the information on our site and in our blog, if you have questions, or if you would like to discuss your options, please contact us.