Horry County Police mandated a fitness test to its officers this year and for many it may be the first time in decades they had fitness requirements.
The only fitness requirement the State of South Carolina has for officers is passing the police academy.
Once an officer passes, it is up to each police department across the state to have its own fitness requirements.
For the first time ever, the Horry County Police Department implemented a fitness test.
Some police officer says physical fitness is vital to their jobs.
“I have chased many through the woods many down the road and a lot of times it’s not for hundred yards it’s not a forty yard dash. You’re trucking,” said Officer Bradley Baker.
Baker is a police officer for the Horry County Police Department.
After a military career, Baker joined the force three years ago so the obstacle course is still fresh in his mind.
However, not all officers are the same as Baker.
“We have a lot of officers that have been out of the academy for a long time that have not had to perform a physical fitness test,’ said Lieutenant Raul Denis with the Horry County Police Department.
The department’s new fitness test used the same obstacle course as the South Carolina Police Academy; the only difference was the time limit.
The South Carolina Police Academy has a 2:07 time limit.
The fitness test for Horry County Police had a 15 minute time limit.
Officers were notified months in advance of the pending fitness requirement.
By now all of them should have run the course, however when News 13 asked, police officials were unable to provide any times.
News 13 did find out three officers injured themselves on the course.
News 13 reporter AJ Janavel and photojournalist Marshall Staton ran the same course Horry County Police officers run.
Janavel’s time was 1:44.
Staton’s time was 1:36.
Well under the state’s 2:07 time limit and minutes under the county’s 15 minute time limit.
“It’s our starting point for the process and the process being a multiyear process of getting our force in better shape,” said Lt. Denis.
Police did not have an answer for why the test was implemented this year.
But News 13 found out there is no state fitness testing standard after police academy graduation.
“The state law enforcement academy does not require departments to do anything,” said Lt. Denis.
The longer someone has been an officer in South Carolina, the longer it is possible they have not had a fitness exam.
And if an out-of-state officer transfers to South Carolina with at least one year of experience, they are not required to pass the physical fitness exam at the academy.
According to county police documents the goal of the fitness exam is to identify officers who are unable to perform their job required by state standards.
“Take the initiative to get in shape themselves and realize this is a coming requirement,” said Lt. Denis.
Denis says fitness requirements will become stricter.
Officers would not give specifics about punishments for failing the tests.
But police documents say if an officer fails, a fitness plan may be assigned.
Other municipalities within the county do not have explicit fitness requirements.
North Myrtle Beach requires an Occupational Safety and Health Administration physical every year, but there is no annual fitness test.
In Myrtle Beach officers are required to have an annual physical as well, but there is no annual fitness test.
The City of Conway requires a bi-annual physical, but no annual fitness requirement.
The county’s sheriff’s department has had a fitness requirement for the last four years. It involves completing the same obstacle course as the academy’s as well as several other fitness tests.
Surfside Beach Police does not have an annual fitness test.