St. Louis police officers must pass an annual physical abilities test, which includes a quarter-mile obstacle course and heart rate and blood pressure screening. It has been a point of contention among the ranks for more than 20 years because officers have been injured during the test and consequences have grown over time to include dismissal. Now, it’s up for review, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Bettye Battle-Turner, a member of the Board of Police Commissioners, asked that staff draft a revised policy. She said she had learned that most other police departments do not have such a test or fire officers who fail.
“We have a one-test-fits-all approach, and we need to consider gender, age, et cetera,” she said. She said that officers could be given incentives – such as bonuses or extra time off – for taking the test voluntarily. Battle-Turner has said that her husband, former police Lt. Fred Turner, retired from the force after 37 years in 2009 because he feared the test might aggravate a back injury. On average, 97 percent of officers pass the test, but nine are injured, resulting in annual workers’ compensation claims of $170,500.