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Rockport Police Department implements new fitness requirements aimed at helping officers live a healthier life

Rockport Police officer Stephanie Garcia knows when responding to a call, being physically fit is part of the job.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — You might recall it was just yesterday 3News told you about DPS sending out a directive for state troopers to slim down their waistlines by the end of the year or face consequences.

Here locally, the Rockport Police Department is implementing a brand new fitness training requirement of their own.

It will be for new hires, but also for their 27 current officers from the bottom to the top of the chain.

Rockport Police Chief Greg Stevens said they are not trying to run officers off, but help them live better lives. Officer Stephanie Garcia knows when responding to a call, being physically fit is part of the job.

"We do running, climbing, we never know what we are going to get into," Garcia said.

At the Public Safety Center in Rockport this week, heart rates are rising as officers take part in a new physical fitness effort.

Chief Stevens went through the testing Wednesday morning.

"The average times we are seeing is around the 9-to-10-minute mark," said Stevens. "Statistically, unfortunately officers have a high stress career, and they don't get to enjoy a long retirement.  Too often we see that happen."

In order to promote a better outlook for his officers, Stevens is now requiring them to test their physical fitness every six months to the standards of DPS' Get Fit Program.

"I've been doing law enforcement for three decades and you will see physical fitness test that involved dragging a dummy or climbing stairs or jacking up a car," Stevens said. "Those probably served a great purpose when they first began, but what we've learned through research and throughout the years, those aren't realistic."

So instead, the officers are taking part in a 2000-meter row to help paint a better picture of their current fitness levels.

"It's a rowing machine, but it's not about rowing across the water it's a way to test your body's ability to rapidly accelerate your heart rate and to bring it back down," Stevens said.

The police chief said it's all about making sure the public has confidence in his officers when they hit the street, but he also wants his officers to enjoy a life of wellness.

"I got an 8:05 on my time this morning. My personal best. I'm 48 years old pushing to get closer to a guy in his 20s," said Police Captain Nathan Anderson. "Didn't quite get there but I'm happy with my score."

Anderson said aside from the test creating a little friendly competition, he understands why it's being implemented.

"To make our department healthier, to have these officers whenever they are ready to retire, they are going to live a long life after they do retire," Anderson said. "You see on TV, a lot of departments across the county and question how is that officer able to to perform his job."

Stevens said several law enforcement agencies across the nation have moved to this type of testing. The goal is to create a new agility program that will be specifically catered for each officer at Rockport P.D.

"Myself being 52-years old, six foot tall, 194 pounds, my requirement will be different from a 22-year officer different height and weight," Stevens said.

After 3 tests, Stevens said they'll build a baseline on what the standard should be for new recruits and what current officers should maintain.

"A lot of people would say, are they trying to run off officers?  Nothing like that whatsoever," Stevens said. "It's all about officer wellness and trying to create the best life we can for the people than answer those 911 calls and protect and serve our communities."

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