Police Officer Physical Ability Test Training:
The physical ability test (PAT) is one of the most important tests for becoming a police officer. A person who passes the PAT will be able to serve as a peace officer or other law enforcement position. However, it requires a high level of physical fitness which means that all applicants must have good health and stamina.
There are many exercises that can improve your overall strength, flexibility, endurance and agility.
There are several types of physical tests used in the police department. They include:
1. Handgun Pistol Shooting Test (GUN TESTS): These tests consist of firing a pistol at a target from various distances.
They measure hand-eye coordination, reaction time, speed and accuracy. All these skills are necessary for being able to shoot accurately while under pressure during a gunfight situation.
2. Jumping Jacks (JUMPING JACKS): These tests involve jumping up and down on a board with your feet spread apart.
They measure balance, flexibility, strength and endurance.
3. Runners Up (RUNNER’S UP): These tests require you to run through a course while wearing special shoes designed to make running faster and easier than normal running shoes.
They measure agility, speed, balance and endurance.
4. Sit-Ups (SIT UPS): These tests measure your abdominal strength and endurance by having you sit up from a lying position as many times as you can within a one minute period.
They also look at balance and flexibility.
5. Vertical Jump (V.
JUMP): These tests measure how high you can jump up from a standing position. They measure strength, power and ability to quickly adjust center of gravity.
6. Push-Ups (PUMP-UPS): These tests require you to lie down and push yourself up from a lying position using your arms and elbows.
They measure strength, endurance and overall physical fitness.
5 Mile Run (1.5 MILE RUN): These tests measure endurance by having you run a course of one and a half miles within a certain time limit. They measure speed, agility, endurance and lung capacity.
8. Obstacle Course (OBSTACLE COURSE): These tests require you to run and/or jump over various obstacles.
They measure strength, agility, balance, coordination, speed and endurance.
9. Gripping Strength (GRIP): These tests measure the force you can grip with one hand.
They measure hand strength, power and endurance.
10. Finger Tips (FINGER TIPS): These tests measure how fast and far you can push your finger tips from a standing position. They measure strength, speed and flexibility.
There are also various physical events that take place during the police officer selection process. They too help to measure a candidate’s overall physical abilities and limitations.
Physical Agility Test: These tests usually involve running, walking, crawling, jumping, balancing and climbing over, under or through various obstacles.
Obstacle Course: An obstacle course is set up with various obstacles that must be completed in a certain order within a given time limit. These may include climbing over or through walls, scaling fences, jumping over obstacles, barrier tunnels, balancing on ropes, etc.
Physical Endurance Test: These are the most common fitness tests that measure your overall stamina and endurance. They usually involve continuous walking or jogging, sometimes with obstacles involved.
Push-Ups: These are standard tests of upper body and arm strength. They can also be used to test swimming ability, especially underwater, if a subject is submerged up to their chin or even head in water during the test.
Sit-Ups: These are standard tests of abdominal muscle endurance and strength.
Standing Long Jump: This is a measure of lower body power and explosive movement. A standing long jump is performed without the use of steps or a running start.
Streching Exercises: These tests are used to test flexibility and muscular endurance of a candidate’s back, neck, arm, leg and foot muscles. This is usually determined by measuring the range of movement in various joints and limbs.
Swimming Test: This test also serves as an obstacle course for candidates that have to swim underwater for any length of time during the test.
Treadmill Test: A treadmill is used to push the body and its endurance levels to the limit. This is usually used to test cardiovascular endurance by measuring the length of time a person can maintain a given pace on the treadmill before collapsing from exhaustion.
The various physical abilities and limitations of an individual are tested at a police academy.
The physical training program at the academy will prepare candidates for various law enforcement positions such as:
1. Defensive Tactics Instructor
2. Defensive Tactics Operator
3. Officer on Patrol
4. Boating Officer
5. Bike Patrol Officer
6. Criminal Investigator
7. Canine Handler
8. Motorcycle Officer including Road Patrol Officer
9. SWAT Team Member
10. Border Patrol Agent
11. Underwater Search and Recovery Unit including SCUBA Diver
12. Underwater Crime Scene Investigator including SCUBA Diver
13. Undercover Detective
14. Hostage Negotiator
The above list is just a sample of the various careers in law enforcement that candidates will be prepared for after graduation from a police academy. Just to name a few…
Motivation & Maturity
Along with the physical training program, there is also a specialized counseling program that focuses on the candidate’s motivation and maturity level. There are several exercises involved designed to test these traits.
The police academy has an uncompromising standard of excellence in candidates. They are looking for intelligent, motivated, mature candidates that will best serve their communities as law enforcement officers. The selection process is very thorough and demanding, but well worth it in the long run.
The police academy training is 12-weeks long. There are various classes involved such as Criminal Law, Police Laws, Report Writing, First Aid, Emergency Procedures, Traffic Laws, Firearms Training, and Physical Training.
The Physical Training Program involves a lot of running, swimming, calesthenics (such as push-ups and sit-ups), obstacle courses and weight training.
A Note About the Physical Training Program
One thing that is overlooked by many people is the fact that each state has their own law enforcement agency. Each law enforcement agency has its own training program.
For example, one state may require all officers to pass a 1.5 mile run within a certain amount of time to pass the physical fitness portion of the academy. Another state may have more rigorous standards and require officers to run a faster pace and a longer distance.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) requires all officers to pass a 2 mile run within a certain amount of time in order to graduate from the academy. In this case, the faster you run the shorter the program is and the sooner you can get on with your career as a law enforcement officer.
Once an officer graduates from his or her state police academy, he or she is then sent out on the road for “Field Training” for anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. During this time the new police officer is “on-the-job” trained by a veteran officer. The veteran officer makes sure that the new officer has the necessary skills to be out on the streets and handling calls for service.
If all goes well, the new officer will pass this part of the training and become a fully fledged law enforcement officer!
Sources & references used in this article:
Effects of preparing for physical ability tests by J Hogan, A Quigley – Public Personnel Management, 1994 – journals.sagepub.com
Meeting trainees’ expectations: The influence of training fulfillment on the development of commitment, self-efficacy, and motivation. by SI Tannenbaum, JE Mathieu, E Salas… – Journal of applied …, 1991 – psycnet.apa.org
High-intensity functional training (HIFT): definition and research implications for improved fitness by Y Feito, KM Heinrich, SJ Butcher, WSC Poston – Sports, 2018 – mdpi.com
Student-led exercise sessions yield significant fitness gains for Alzheimer’s patients by SM Arkin – American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other …, 2003 – journals.sagepub.com