Robert Bridges is Clayton’s interim police chief, but he is hardly a placeholder.
Earlier this month, Bridges asked the Town Council to OK his plan to require Clayton police officers to undergo a yearly physical-fitness test. The council should say yes.
Yes because the first beneficiaries of the fitness test will be Clayton police officers. Bridges wants to use a test that gives an officer a set number of minutes to do the following: get out of his car, run 200 yards, drag a dummy weighing 150 pounds for 50 feet, scale a staircase up and down three times, push open a 50-pound door with his body weight, do multiple sets of 20 pushups and 20 sit-ups and crawl through a 40-foot culvert.
The standard time, we’re told, is seven minutes and 20 seconds.
Ultimately, officers who fail the test could lose their jobs. No officer wants to do that of course, especially in Clayton, which has the best-paying police force in Johnston County. So officers who come up short on the test will no doubt head to the gym to get in shape. That will be good not only for their employment prospects but also for their health.
Physically fit police officers are also good for Clayton residents. In real life, that 150-pound dummy could an injured person or an unruly suspect who needs to be subdued. A quick run up a flight of stairs, meanwhile, could save a victim of domestic violence; a child could be trapped in that 40-foot culvert. In short, a physically fit officer could mean the difference between life and death.
Beyond that, physically fit police officers are good for Clayton taxpayers. Healthy people have fewer medical bills, and since Clayton taxpayers foot the bill for police officer health insurance, a healthy, physically fit police force will save them money in the long run.
We don’t know what Clayton police officers think of their interim chief’s plan, and maybe the Town Council should hear from a few of them first.
But a plan that is good for police officers and the citizens they serve is a good thing for Clayton, and Bridges deserves credit for bringing it to the council.