Arrested Development

During the summers of the late 1970s, early ’80s, I remember getting up in the morning, having some scrambled eggs and a pop tart or two, then as soon as the Flintstones was done, I’d go outside to play ‘cops & robbers’ with my neighborhood friends all day – the only break would be for a sandwich (usually a couple slices of cheese-impregnated ham with a slathering of yellow mustard) and a cold glass of cool-ade (I don’t know what flavors, but it seemed like it was always red).

Whenever we’d play CHiPs, there’d be the standard argument over who could be “Ponch“.

Back in those days, to become a police officer (or at least to play one on TV), you really had to have the appearance of being an outstanding citizen and in good physical condition (Don’t even try to convince me that Barney Fief, Rosco P. Coltrane or the aforementioned motorcycle cops from CHiPs weren’t all in the their physical prime).

Looking back, I suppose I could even give some credit to those fictitious law enforcers as my early inspirations to exercise as I’d run around chasing bad guys and patrolling the neighborhood on my ‘motorcycle’ all day. (Okay, so maybe Ponch & Jon were just convenient excuses to put baseball cards in the spokes of my bike…)

“Being well-rounded, having some life experience, makes for a better person and patrolman…” Fast forward to the present day, non-televised world of cops: Police standards are sinking fast.

Minor crimes like drug convictions (“experimental use of cocaine and marijuana” or “ecstasy… as long as it was more than five years in the past“) and gang related activity (I can only imagine what this includes) are no longer the barriers to wearing a badge and carrying a service revolver that they once were.

You now have the right to a jelly donut. If you cannot afford a deep fried mound of flour covered (and filled) with sugar, a donut will be provided for you by the taxpayers.

The physical standards for new recruits are falling, too (why else would I have brought the subject up in the first place?).

One police department in Alaska now allows for an additional 21 seconds to run 300 meters – giving them a full minute and 17 seconds to cover the track. Should I assume they’re running in snowshoes?

The L.A.P.D even loosened the body fat requirements to 24% for men and 32% for women. I could understand these levels in the corn-belt states, but in Los Angeles? Judging by the cover of People magazine, I was under the impression that being overweight there was a crime!

In everything else in life, standards get tougher. Why would something as important as protecting and serving go the other way?



  1. Riddle me this Batman…..
    Why do cons workout in excellent gyms and come out of prisons as a leaner, stronger version of themselves while the police get fatter and lazier? I know the powerlifting scene has a huge prison following.

    Perhaps, the cons should be fed doughnuts and get desk jobs. At least it might make the playing field a bit more fair.


  2. One the age requirement has raised to allow for older individuals to be hired.
    I too felt strongly in regards to this issue when I first got hired on the job for the Sheriffs department 15 years ago. I was age 27, 110lb with one kid already. Please take into consideration that age has a lot to do with it. People age and their metabolism slows, this you should already know. It is a part of life. You tell me what percent of body fat Americans in general have over 30, then age 40, then 50 in any profession. It is not all about frigging donut’s. That stereotyping nauseate me. Because for 15 years i not once sat in a donut shop and fed my face with donuts. I have while i was on a lunch break i sat in the local restaurant and ate lunch but never donuts. But that is just me. While on the job we get yearly training about new laws, tactic’s for saving lives such as CPR-Hazard Materials certification, emergency response and defensive tactic’s. It would be nice if we were allowed to workout as part of our jobs, but it is something we can not do while working. It might help with our aging physiques. But tell me what job does allow people to workout while getting paid. None that i know of. I realize that it would make sense but that would not be politically correct. I remember a large monitary settlement going to a airline stewardess years back for getting fired for gaining weight of 10lbs because it was against the rules of the airline for the women to be over 125lbs. You just can’t put thous kind of rules into place and expect individuals to abide by them anymore. People of different ages and body types can not be expected to stay in the same ideal weight and shape. I believe just as they have programs to rehabilitate criminals and help them get their lives back on tract there should be programs to help people in general to maintain good health and shape at their jobs including Law Enforcement. The problem is employers don’t want to spend the money, but more importantly they dont want to allow their employees/officers to take time away from the job to allow officers to workout and stay in shape. We are allowed of course to do it after work, but who has the time. People have families, we work overtime while on a late arrest alot. If you see officers sitting on their fat asses in a donut shop they are usually older officers that are tired of chasing the bad guys for too many years and are just not motivated to go “looking” for criminals. Sad but true. They may have seen damn near every horrible situation a person may want to see in a lifetime and they may find it easier to just relax drinking a free coffee at the local donut/coffee shop. So please don’t judge cops based on a stereotype until you try walking in their shoes for 10 years in a big city and see how long it takes before you either start drinking, cheating, or eating to ease some of the pain and suffering and depression your not suppose to feel when you see sexually and phyically abused children, murder victims and their families. Accident victims, who had their brains splattered all over the street and you have to attempt to tell the parents of this young 20 year old victim what happened to their son or daughter. The job of being in law enforcement is a thankless low paying job with the threat of life and death daily because you never know what you might find if you pull over someone for maybe just having a headlight out. So sometimes your own personal health kind of gets pushed back to the way side when you have several other things on your mind daily. But i digress, just please don’t try to assume to pass judgement against large department regarding officers physiques when your clearly are misinformed as to discrimination law suits that are filed regardling limitations in hiring and firing.
    From one Stankowski to another.
    S. Stankowski Cook County Sheriffs Deputy wife of D. Stankowski Chicago Police Tactical Officer, Daughter of Retired Chicago Police Officer.


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