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Physical Fitness as a Factor in Performance on the Job in Law Enforcement: An Executive Summary

NCJ Number
R W F Williams
Date Published
37 pages
This document examines physical fitness and total wellness from a management perspective, as job performance factors of law enforcement personnel.
The author hypothesized that reasonable investment of effort and funds into carefully constructed and well-monitored fitness programs will improve the performance of law enforcement personnel. The report, which is divided into three main sections, evaluates contemporary literature, examines existing programs, and emerging technology. It does not evaluate current, longitudinal studies that relate to possible improvement of a police officer's ability to perform specific tasks, but with physical fitness as a means of increasing the probability of preserving law enforcement operating personnel. Studies in the private sector report significant return for time and funds spent on fitness programs. Benefits, costs, and tradeoffs in fitness programs are examined. Studies indicating program effects on such factors as use of sick time, medical claims, medical retirements, individual competence, ability to recruit new personnel, and vulnerability to vicarious liability are discussed. Decisionmaking about developing and implementing a physical fitness program are discussed, and details of management theory implemented in the Downey Police Department (California) are examined. Trends that may impact on the future of fitness programs in law enforcement are also discussed. Charts, survey instruments, and 63 references.(Author abstract modified)