News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Friday, Dec. 6th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The sheriff's newest initiative is taking aim at deputies and their waistlines.
The Sheriff's new Total Fitness program takes effect January 1st and he's hoping it will help make the community safer.
"Keeping your self healthy, eating right, that way you have enough energy to be able to do your job," said Deputy Lucas Grant.
Push-ups, sit-ups and wind sprints are all a part of Deputy Grant's workout routine, but pretty soon it will be more than just a workout. It'll be a test he and all deputies will have to pass.
"It's not just about appearance," said Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton. "It's about health and wellness."
In a job where deputies spend the majority of time in their patrol car, it's important to keep them active.
"This is hours and hours of boredom sometimes tinged by moments of terror," said Clayton.
In those moments of terror you never know what or who you might encounter.
"They may try to outrun us and you definitely have to be in shape for that," said Grant. "They may jump a couple fences and that sort of thing and you may have to be up to par to do all that."
Besides just being fit, the goal is to make deputies healthier.
"The thing that kills police officers more than anything is not a bullet or a knife from a suspect. It's usually heart disease," explained Clayton.
The Total Fitness Program will consist of 5 tests: a mile run, a 300 meter sprint, bench press, sit ups and push-ups. Each event is worth 10 points and you need a total of 35 to pass the test.
"For push-ups your have to be able to do at least 25 within one minute," said Clayton.
Requirements are the same for every deputy no matter your age or gender.
"If you're out there struggling with a defendant they don't ever ask you how old you are, if you're a girl or whatever," said Clayton.
The test will be required for every sworn deputy in the office starting at the top.
"The sheriff, the colonel and I will be right there in front. Well I won't say we'll be leading in front, but we'll be there," joked Clayton.
They will be tested once a year starting January 1st, 2014.
For the mile, to get the full 10 points the mile run must be completed in under 8 minutes and 38 seconds. For the 7 points needed to pass you need to run it in under 10 minutes and 41 seconds.
All current deputies will have three years to get up to par. New hires will be required to pass immediately. The Sheriff's Office will offer volunteer fitness programs as well as nutrition and stress reduction classes.