The Nashua Police Department is implementing an incentive program to keep its force in top physical and mental shape.
New Hampshire state standards require police officers to perform, at minimum, within the 35th percentile of the Cooper Aerobics Institute Standards for their physical fitness exams.
“Which is abysmally low and embarrassing to say in public,” said Deputy Chief James Testaverde of the Nashua Police Department. “That is the state standard. It is not the Nashua Police Department standard.”
Last week, city officials approved an agreement with the Nashua Police Patrolman’s Association and the Nashua Police Supervisor’s Association to offer an optional Wellness Incentive Physical Fitness Test, which would replace the traditional physical fitness test.
The objective is to encourage officers to keep as fit as possible, explained Alderman Richard Dowd.
“It is totally on a voluntary basis,” said Testaverde.
The exam consists of bench presses, sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run.
Anyone who scores at or above the 80th percentile for each of the test sections will, under the incentive program, receive one paid day off from work — essentially a wellness day, he said.
Anyone who scores at or above the 90th percentile for each of the test sections will be permitted two paid days off from work; major holidays are not allowed and administration can deny requests if they will incur overtime.
“Wellness promotes good physical health. It promotes good mental health. It promotes longevity and retention in this field and also cuts down on absenteeism,” said the deputy, stressing the need for officers to be in top physical shape.
Lori Wilshire, president of the Board of Aldermen, praised the police department for taking steps to improve the health of its officers.
“Thirty-five percent seems like the bar is set really low,” Wilshire said of the state standards.
While some officers may easily be able to reach the higher incentive standards, Testaverde said the majority of them will have to work to achieve these new levels.
“Again, this is not Navy Seals standards, but we want our officers to be in much, much better physical fitness,” he said.