Police having trouble finding physically fit recruits

By Chip Washington - bio | email

SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC-TV) - Becoming a law enforcement officer is something many aspire to, but for police chiefs that are responsible for hiring, finding good candidates is not always easy.

According to Southaven Police Chief Tom Long, out of shape recruits are becoming as commonplace.

"The very first test we do is the physical fitness test - a standardized test which consists of push-ups, a mile and a half run, an agility run, set and reach, and for us, an obstacle course," he said.

Those tests often knock out between 60 and 70 percent of those who apply, Long said.  And, it's becoming a bigger challenge than candidates just being overweight.

"These are not obese people showing up," he said. "These people do not appear overweight. They're just out of shape."

A major part of passing the fitness test in Southaven happens at the police department's training facility.  In Horn Lake, Police Chief Darryl Whaley tells a similar story about filling positions.

"There's a bar there, and you've got to be on it, and a lot of people are not in shape to do it," Whaley said.

Recently, Whaley said, a recruiting class that started with 108 applicants was weeded down to four that met physical fitness requirements at the end of a 10-week training period.

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