The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee this afternoon heard testimony concerning the disproportionate rate at which female police recruits fail the physical examination conducted by police academies.
An Asbury Park Press report sparked the hearing. The report found that 31% of women failed the law enforcement physical fitness test in 2017 compared to 2% of men. Eighteen percent failed in 2018 compared to 2% of men. The report also found that New Jersey ranks behind 31 states and District of Columbia in women in law enforcement.
John Cunningham of the police training commission, said, “We need to be proactive. We’re going to get people prepared. Preparation is the key.
“We’re going to go out and encourage towns [to specify better recruiting practices],” he added.
Pro and con arguments abounded at the hearing, but multiple law enforcement reps, including women officers – like Cunningham – stuck to the physical fitness demands presently on the books.
“We have a lot to think about,” said Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14), chair of the commitee, at the conclusion of the informational.
Jiles H. Ship of NOBLE said physical fitness is an essential function of law enforcement.
“Quite frankly, we need to do a better job of making sure people can complete the academy; the physical fitness test should be given every year,” Ship told senators.
Ann Marie Ferris, a Morris Plains cop, said, “I strongly believe in the PT standards. There are no short cuts that can be taken in this job. If you want to be a police officer, you need to be in shape for this job.”
24 push-ups in a minute.
28 sit-ups in a minute.
A mile and a half run.
Those are some of the core demands of the PT test.
They are “not impossible,” Ferris argued.
“I would love to see more females but I would not expect that to come through short cuts,” she added.
Fellow Officer Megan Pritchard of Hanover likewise said, “I would like seeing more women in law enforcement, but I wouldn’t want to work with someone who came through at a lesser standard.”
She described adminsitering CPR to a victim for 20 minutes in a hot house in the summer.
“That’s an all-upper body work out,” Pritchard said.
How is being able only to fulfill five push-ups acceptable, she wanted to know.