Sit-Ups Thwart 155 Wannabe Cops

File PhotoThe police department is starting to sweat about the number of recruits for its next class, after it hemorrhaged hundreds of applicants in the very first step: the physical fitness test.

Roughly half of this year’s 1,223 applicants didn’t make it past the first round: 155 failed the physical agility test and another 393 didn’t show up at all, reported Officer Yelena Borisova, who conducts background investigations. Another 675 are still in the running.

Of those, 270 have obtained CHIP cards that allow them to bypass the test and apply to multiple police departments, she added.

Those results led to an outburst of disappointed expletives at Thursday’s weekly CompStat meeting, as the department brass knew that even more candidates will be shaved off in the tougher stages to follow.

“The goal for us is, if you have 1,200 people, you want to try and get as many through the earliest parts of the process. Because what knocks out a lot of people is the background investigations, psychologicals, polygraph, the written test and the orals,” Police Chief Anthony Campbell explained. “So, the larger pool you have up front, the bigger, more qualified pool you’ll have on the tail end. When you lose a lot of people up front to something as basic as agility, it creates an issue.”

Campbell said he believes that the pool is still large enough that he’s still hoping to get two or three academy classes, which legally must be capped at 45 cadets each.

The need for more cops is becoming more urgent, the chief said, as the department is currently understaffed. Of the 495 budgeted spots, only 440 are currently filled. And a wave of retirements could cause further shortages on the force, with two dozen cops ready to retire now and another 44 eyeing it next year.

“That doesn’t take into account resignations for officers who find jobs in other towns that are paying more, and it doesn’t account for injuries [or] disabilities,” he added, “so you need to keep the recruitment process going and keep getting more classes.”

What dashes so many law enforcement dreams? Sit-ups, Borisova said.

That’s one of the test’s four components, which are uniformly set statewide. An applicant also needs to prove they can do enough push-ups (“absolute strength”), a sprint (“anaerobic power”) and a longer run (“cardiovascular capacity”) or get nixed.

The exact times and totals to pass the test vary by gender and age. The toughest cut-off, for males between 20 and 29 years old, requires 38 bent-leg sit-ups in a minute, 29 push-ups in a minute touching one’s chest to a four-inch block, a 300-meter dash in under 59 seconds and a 1.5-mile run in under 12 minutes and 38 seconds.

CHIP, Inc.Recognizing a staffing crunch is imminent, Campbell said the department offered agility clinics to prep candidates for the test, trying to beef up the applicants — a strategy that apparently didn’t reach enough candidates.

Campbell is also considering whether this year’s recruitment process yielded an underprepared class. Last time, over seven months, the department drummed up 1,487 candidates. This time, in just a couple weeks, it cobbled together 1,223 candidates — a “huge number,” Campbell said, given the quick turnaround.

Campbell isn’t sure how the department should switch up the process to get more applicants into police cruisers. “Everything we could legally do to try and help them through the process, we’ve done,” the chief concluded. “But it really comes down to the individual: You’ve gotta pass the test. You know what it is. Do it.”

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posted by: HewNaven on July 13, 2017  2:37pm

This reiterates the need for at least one RoboCop in next year’s budget. Humans are too doughy for the streets.

posted by: 1644 on July 13, 2017  4:21pm

If only police, like the armed forces, were required to maintain their physical fitness, they might not need to use their guns and tasers so much.

posted by: robn on July 13, 2017  6:39pm


posted by: Christian Bruckhart on July 13, 2017  6:47pm

1644, et al, since I’m guessing you’re an expert, how would you recommend we get control of a naked man high on pcp? Or separate the left and right wing lunatics trying to attack each other on the green? Or the numerous other daily calls we get where we have to make split second decisions which you and the other self-styled experts get to nitpick from the comfort of your homes? You’re welcome to come on a ride along with me and see how my day goes: I work 11pm-7am in fair haven. Of course, that would entail coming out from behind your screen into the real world, so maybe you aren’t up for it.

[Paul: Happy to make the introduction if you two would like privately to share email addresses. 1644, you’d like Officer Bruckhart.]

posted by: thecove on July 13, 2017  7:02pm

Unless a physical disability prevents, if you didn’t pass the test, you really don’t want the job…. period.  There is ample time to prepare.

posted by: Bill Saunders on July 13, 2017  8:35pm

Hew Naven,

I thought for sure you were going to reach for the ‘doughnut’, not the ‘dough’....

posted by: T-ski1417 on July 14, 2017  5:23am


I’m sure that all of your training and experience with regard to police use of force and tactics has shown that physical fitness truly has nothing to do with the decision to use less-lethal/lethal force.

I also have no doubt that since you can comment on someone’s physical fitness you must be in top shape yourself. Why don’t you offer your expertise to the New Haven Police Academy, I’m sure they will appreciate it.

posted by: Ozzie on July 14, 2017  7:23am

I’d like to know how many of the test proctors are actually certified by POST to give the physical agility test . During the last recruitment drive some members of the NHPD SWAT team were judging the sit-up portion of the test and when I checked the POST certification list they didn’t have the endorsement to do so. I’m sure the same crew was used this time. On top of that an individual that I know who failed the last recruitment ( but was able to pass another departments test , and is currently working ) was told by New Haven’s non POST certified SWAT member proctors that the heels of their feet had to be no more then 12 inches from the buttocks. Try and do that yourself , it’s nearly impossible. I would also like to know how many non New Havenites were knocked out of the test compared to New Haven residents who passed. I think it’s all opinionated as to who passes and who fails.  Lastly the next time you take a New Haven test take names and check the POST web site at Ct.Gov. to see if that proctor is certified by the State, Just because the Supervising officer is certified by POSTI don’t think it counts that his underling are not !!!

posted by: 1644 on July 14, 2017  9:27am

Christian:  As I have commented before, New Haven police actually seem pretty good at use of force to me.  The complaints I see on NHI are generally of the use of non-lethal physical force which remind me of my high school wrestling days. Given that these take-downs generally happen on hard surfaces, yes, people may get bruised, but generally seem okay.  As for dealing with the crazy guy on “pop”, I would suggest looking at how British police deal with him:  they deal with far fewer guns, but lots of crazy people and people with knives and crazy people with knives and until recently, did not have tasers, let alone guns.  I know the Australian forces train all in unarmed combat, and the Marines have their own martial arts program.
T-ski:  No, I am not currently physically fit, but for my many years of naval service, I was.  Physical fitness is not complicated: exercise.  The armed forces all have their own physical fitness tests and programs.  Boot camp is in large part, physical fitness.  Given the doughy composition of our present youth, the army also runs a pre-boot camp physical fitness program.  In the Navy, the SEALS have their own pre-BUD/S physical fitness program.  After boot camp, service members must pass a physical fitness test semi-annually for as long as they are in.  Repeat failures generally lead to discharge. In essence, two days a year, commands weigh everyone and run them through some basic exercises to ensure members are keeping themselves in minimal good shape. For your reference: 6100.13 CH 2.pdf 11- Member’s Responsibilities 2016.pdf

posted by: 1644 on July 14, 2017  10:32am

Con’t: One of the fundamental problems with police training in the US, and especially CT, is the ability of officers to move from department to department.  A police department which invests a lot in training an officer may see him move to another department for a small pay raise, and the department which trained him loses his entire investment.  The military invests a lot in training because it can bind its members to a period of service.  In the UK, police departments are regional, and essentially all supervised on a kingdom-wide basis by the Home Secretary.  All of Scotland is one department, which would be equivalent to one department in all of Connecticut.  Of course, the advantage of our localized police forces is that departments are able to tailor law enforcement to local desires and priorities.  The disadvantage is an unequal distribution of resources, similar to the one we long ignored in education.  The result is an unequal level of safety for Connecticut citizens:  Newtown cops can stop every one in their town for traffic violations biennially, while Waterbury cops can rarely stop anyone.

posted by: T-ski1417 on July 14, 2017  2:27pm


Again physical fitness has nothing to do with the application of less-lethal/lethal force, even in the military.


Yes non-certified assessors can do the test as long as they are being overseen by a certified proctor and yes from the back of the heel to the buttock must be 12 inches.