officers put fitness to the test this week as part of the department's semi-annual fitness assessments. It's the twenty-first year for the program in Town and Country.
"We use a screening process through ," Captain Gary Hoelzer tells Town and Country - Manchester Patch.
Members of the police department complete a number of physical tasks as part of the assessment, including a 1.5 mile run at track.
"It's just one of the ways to encourage officers who are fit for duty," Hoelzer explained. "We're hoping this spreads throughout the St. Louis area."
Officers also meet with a Missouri Baptist dietician, to review healthy eating habits and alternatives to quick meals such as fast food.
Health and fitness is nothing new to Hoelzer who was previously certified as a law enforcement fitness instructor and has taught fitness courses at St. Louis County & Municipal Police Academy. He has also written on the topic and had an article published in Law and Order Magazine.
Hoelzer, and Detective Jim Gorman, the department's current fitness instructor, are both certified through the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research.
"It (fitness) became more important to me, equipt with that knowledge," Gorman tells Patch. "I worked part time at the YMCA and worked with their fitness programs there and it just became a passion of mine."
Gorman has been the Town and Country Police Department's fitness coordinator for the last 10 years.
"Obviousy there is a direct correlation with an officer's individual fitness level and the ability to do his or her job," Gorman explained.
He said the goal is to keep officers at a fitness level similar to that of when they complete the police academy and its intense fitness program.
"It's a quality of life issue really. When you graduate from the academy, a person is really in the best shape of their career at that time," Gorman explained. However, he said then the reality of work sets in, inlcuding odd hours, long shifts and meals on the go. "When an officer starts, there is a list of essential job requirements. Those essential functions of the job, a lot of them are directly related to a certain level of fitness, being able to aprehend a subject, being able to handcuff a subject and so on," Gorman said.
The goal of the fitness assessments is to encourage continued fitness and overall good health.
"They're not saying that if you can't do the test, you're going to be fired, but it's saying. 'Here's an area to improve in.' A lot of officers, when they see the department is taking an interest, they answer the call," Gorman said.
He also points out the assessments are really of reality check, not just for work, but life in general.
"Fitness becomes the answer to wellness," Gorman said. "In my own life, it became not only a requirement for the job, but in my day-to-day life."