You may be surprised to know (or maybe not after seeing some of my fellow police officers on the streets) that there is no physical fitness statewide requirement. There are no test or program you have to meet to meet state standards (I will cover the academy in a few minutes). Many departments have their own physical requirements and many do not have any. Our local Sheriff’s office has a program that rewards you for being fit and passing the physical fitness course in a certain time but it’s not mandatory and it’s not punitive (they don’t punish you) for not being able to make the time. Now that’s not to say that if you are unable to walk up a flight of stairs without being winded you would be OK.
Think about the reality of it. You have to be physically fit to do this job, and the more fit you are the more likely you are not to die in a physical struggle or even after being shot or injured. Being physically fit will save your life and maybe that of your fellow cops/police officers and the citizens you serve.
Imagine chasing a bad guy on foot for a few hundred yards and once you catch them you are too tired to fight? You may end up dead. SO being physically fit is almost a requirement for self-survival.
But the State of Florida actually has no requirement for physical fitness. Now some academies have an entry physical test you must pass, and that is up to each individual academy. And each one is slightly different. Our academy physical course is 440 yards long and has fences, low crawls, sprints, and cone weaves, pistol trigger pull, a door and window, and last a heavy (150 lb) dummy drag. Its hard but not impossible if you half way in shape.
The State of Florida does have a physical requirement once you are in the academy. The Physical Fitness course is 60 mandatory hours of your academy time. How that time is spent is again up to each academy and the programs vary widely. We follow a Crossfit style PT program.
The State of Florida requires that recruits be tested twice while in the Police and Corrections academy. Once in the first two weeks, and once in the last two weeks of the academy (or at the end of 60 hours of PT training. The test consist of:
maximum without stopping push-ups
sit-ups in 1 minute
There is no required number or standard to pass according to the state. The only requirement in the State rules is that you “show improvement” between the first test and the last test. And that you participate while taking PT. So as long as you try, and you show improvement you will pass. Now academies may set their own standards that are tougher than those, but you would have to check with the training academy to find out if they have any other requirements.
Also, you should consider what this physical fitness is for, your safety and that of others. Try holding a half gallon jug half full of water up in front of you at shoulder height. How long can you hold it? How long can you hold a firearm up like that? Work on your endurance (cardio) and upper body strength. Run, do sit-ups, push-ups, work on your vertical leaps, and sprints. You will be fine.
Some departments have physical fitness requirements of their own. You would need to contact them to find out what they are, but not many have any kind at all, and that’s a shame.
The physical abilities test, PAT or Agility Course or whatever your area or departmental specific test are called are not that hard, they usually involve a run (ours is 1.5 miles) and an obstacle course of some design, and maybe some basics like push-ups or sit-ups and such. If you are truly out of shape a terribly overweight I suggest starting to get in shape well before you have to try and take this. It is not for athletes only, but it is not for the couch potato either.
Do about 4-6 months of regular exercise before you attempt this test. Oh and please do not show up looking like your trying to get a date. Men and women included. Show up in proper clothing for running a physical course. Don’t show up in jeans and a tee shirt and dress shoes! Do not show up in your old military uniform and boots. Just wear gym shorts or long sweat pants, and a tee shirt (that does not have profanity or sexual writing on it!) I mention these things because I have seen them at the testing!