Trumbull police academy enforces fitness standards

Kyle Nelson

Program boosts hours for success

With physical fitness being one of the most integral parts of police work, School Commander Dave Wert said he takes the physical fitness of his cadets at Kent State University Trumbull Campus’ Police Academy very seriously.

“If (the cadets) are going to fail something, it’s going to be the fitness test,” Wert said. “If you don’t actually workout, you’re not going to pass. That’s why we spend a lot of time on physical conditioning.”

The mandatory amount of physical fitness hours for an Ohio police academy is 568 hours, said Catherine Kieley, coordinator of the Trumbull Campus Police Academy. The academy at Trumbull, however, runs about 612 hours.

“The reason we have the additional hours is because we’ve added hours to the physical conditioning component,” Kieley said. “It’s difficult for some people because they have to pass the course to get their certification. If they miss something even by a second or a sit-up, they can fail the entire program.”

Over the course of one hour, Wert has his cadets run laps around the Workforce Development and Continuing Studies Center (outside, when the weather permits), train with medicine balls, perform push-ups, throw punches, kicks, elbows and knees at a training bag, all culminating with a seven-minute focused abdominal workout.

This seven-minute workout is where many of the cadets start to show his or her fatigue. The workout consists of 245 repetitions combining crunches, traditional sit-ups, jackknifes, trunk twists, bicycle crunches, leg hugs and a variety of other exercises specifically designed to strengthen the abdominal core.

Cadet Brian Stambaugh has seen the benefits of the physical conditioning first-hand. As acting Class Commander, Stambaugh also is a motivating factor in the cadets’ continued success.

“I’m in the best shape of my life, and it’s building a lot of self-confidence,” Stambaugh said. “We get our money’s worth, that’s for sure. The seven-minute workout is brutal but beneficial. It’s benefiting everyone.”

Ben Vecchio, instructor of physical training and defense tactics, is aware of the balance he must strike with his cadets. Students gradually work their way up to the harder workouts (the seven-minute abdominal workout included), however.

“We start off slow to try and get the feel for how people are as a group,” Vecchio said. “If we start out too fast or too hard, their self-confidence will drop. We know a lot of people who get into this kind of work are pre-disposed to liking these workouts.”

The methods have proven successful since the academy’s inception in June 2006.

“We have a 99.9 percent passing rate on the state certification,” Kieley said. “There have only been a couple of students who haven’t passed the test.”

Officer Courtenay Perkins is one of the many that has successfully completed the rigors of Trumbull’s police academy. Perkins started as a patrol officer in Hubbard Township a week after graduating and is starting his new job as a patrol officer in Solon in April.

“The academy prepares us very well,” Perkins said. “This academy takes more time to teach you things. Other places just get you through what Ohio needs you to get through. If you’re not fit, it’s hard to survive out there.”

Contact regional campus

reporter Kyle Nelson

at [email protected].