Staying in shape: Woodstock officers hit the gym to meet fitness standards

Woodstock Police Department patrolman D.J. Dunivan, left, monitors his coworker, patrolman Ben DeMay, as he executes pushups as part of their physical fitness regiment. The police department has implemented a physical fitness and wellness program that has made staff healthier and more fit. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – The Woodstock Police Department is trimming some fat around the office, in the most literal sense of the phrase.

The department recently instituted fitness standards among its officers, and began enforcing several new policies to encourage wellness among employees. Officers now can spend an hour per day working out while on duty and have access to dietary and general health and wellness consultants and information.

Likewise, they are now tested twice annually in a personal fitness test. To pass, they must complete 25 pushups in one minute, 30 situps in one minute, run 300 meters in less that 66.4 seconds, run 1.5 miles in less than 15:54, and leap 15.5 inches off the ground. They can take three to five minutes to rest in between each test.

Officers who do not pass are assigned extra supervision from their fellow officers to help pass the next time.

Police Chief Eric Reiley said a lot of people do not know that the state does not require annual fitness testing once officers graduate the police academy. He said taxpayers expect a level of service from those who serve and protect them, and wellness is a part of that service.

Woodstock patrolman D.J. Dunivan performs a vertical jump test that is one of the physical fitness testing standards developed by the Cooper Institute and implemented by the Woodstock Police Department. The minimum leaping standard is set at 15 1/2 inches. Rich Cooley/Daily

“It’s not about being the biggest or the strongest person that you come into contact with, it’s about being able to perform in an emergency,” he said.

Since the program’s start two years ago, Reiley said two officers have lost 75 pounds, and most are headed in a similar, though less dramatic direction.

One of two who dropped 75 pounds, Officer Brian Miller, said he’s not an athletic person, so staying in shape never came especially easy to him.

However, since receiving help from his coworkers, Miller said he’s lost the weight, has been feeling better and is more conscious of how and what he eats. Nowadays, he packs a lunch instead of splurging on fast food, often the only option open late at night when officers are on patrol.

Along with shaking the extra pounds, Miller can run 1.5 miles in 15:30, down from 28:30 when he started.

Investigator Stuart Leake, who is running the program with officers D.J. Dunivan and Ben DeMay, said the effects on Miller’s general health are exceptional.

“He’s added a decade or more onto his life, just by getting healthier,” Leake said.

Reiley noted that the nature of police work is not conducive to healthy living in itself. He said because of the long doldrums that punctuate high stress activity, along with erratic hours, officers have a high rate of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and back pain.

He said on average police officers live roughly five years past their retirement date before death. He’s hoping the new regimen will let some of his officers be able to spend more time with their grandchildren a few decades down the line.

Until they make it to be grandparents, Woodstock’s finest will keep hitting the weight room, the track and the salad bar to continue passing their fitness tests.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com