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Fitness incentives in place
The League of Minnesota Cities rolled out an online wellness program in October 2012 that officers can complete for ongoing education credit required to maintain their state-issued license.
The league insures more than 90 percent of Minnesota cities (not Minneapolis or St. Paul). The online course was created after Rob Boe, the league’s public safety coordinator, began researching the cause and prevention of officer injuries.
Boe, a retired officer and sheriff’s deputy, kept bumping up against a universal message from health experts: “They would just shrug their shoulders and say improved fitness would help everything.”
In Ramsey, current officers were grandfathered into the fitness requirements but were encouraged to volunteer for a fitness program loaded with incentives. Sixteen of 22 sworn officers participate. They each contribute 30 minutes of their break time, and the city contributes another 30 minutes of paid time to work out on the job. Officers are tested twice annually in six areas and can earn an hour of paid time off for surpassing the minimum requirements.
“The overall fitness level and strength of the officers involved is phenomenal,” Way said.
Acting Maplewood Police Chief Dave Kvam said he’d like to see mandatory fitness testing for job retention. Maplewood does not test officers once they are hired.
“I liken it to firearms qualification,” Kvam said. “Most officers end their career without having been involved in a shooting, but we are required to demonstrate a reasonable degree of competence with firearms each year. … It is important to be in shape enough to reasonably perform the job duties.”
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708