Police Chief Perceptions of Officer Physical Fitness and Barriers to Better Fitness
Keywords:police, perceptions, fitness, barriers, Texas
Maintaining fitness and a healthy bodyweight can enhance police officer safety, de-escalation, and subsequently survivability in addition to overall health and wellness. Within a law enforcement agency, it can be difficult to implement a health and wellness program without the support of the police chief and command staff. However, support for health and wellness programs and the perceived impact on the job by law enforcement police chiefs is not well known. This article analyzes police chiefs’ perspectives on police officer physical fitness and bodyweight, and their impact on multiple aspects of the job, as well as barriers to implementing health and wellness programs. A survey of 425 Texas police chiefs indicated 99.5% of respondents believed it was important or somewhat important for officers to be at a healthy bodyweight. The top potential barriers to officers’ physical fitness represented by police chiefs were individual unwillingness and laziness. A more thorough understanding of perceptions and beliefs by law enforcement leadership can help enhance the alignment of programs, impact habits, and ultimately influence daily choices that officers make. These perceptions can also assist in the development of programs to further support officer readiness, safety, and survivability, as well as overall health.
Copyright (c) 2023 Matthew Wagner, Michael Harper, Alexis R. Rockwell, William Wells
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.