Gulfport Police Department
Chief of Police Public Information Officer
Robert A. Vincent Thomas Woodman
Physical Fitness Standards Relaxed
The physical fitness standards for police officers are being relaxed following labor contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police. Previously, all sworn officers were required to take and pass a fitness test once a year; however, the city agreed to an amendment that would make the standards applicable only to those hired after the policy was implemented in 2011.
The change was requested by Sergeant Robert Burkhart, who represented the first line supervisors during the contract negotiations. The city at first objected but eventually conceded when the union offered to accept a reduced salary increase in exchange for the relaxed fitness standards.
In an effort to address growing concerns of health, safety, and public image, Chief Robert Vincent implemented the physical abilities test following his appointment as chief of police in 2010. The test—which consists of a 440-yard run, an obstacle course, and a 150 lb. dummy drag—was initially developed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and was selected for incorporation in the Gulfport program by a committee of officers and sergeants.
There are several local police departments throughout the state which have similar programs, although in Pinellas County, only the sheriff’s office currently conducts annual fitness tests. Since the Gulfport program was implemented, all officers and sergeants successfully passed the test.
The agency will still conduct fitness testing, but only those hired since 2011 will be required to participate. Others may elect to take the test, and they will be rewarded with a paid day off if they achieve a passing score.