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Chief Speaks Out Against Paid Gym Time for Officers

Chief Speaks Out Against Paid Gym Time for Officers

The Canadian Press via YellowBrix

January 19, 2010

WINNIPEG, Canada — Winnipeg’s police chief says he would rather have his police officers on the streets fighting crime than in the gym being paid to pump iron.

Police say paid workout time is becoming an issue across Canada as they increasingly face criminals coming out of jail bulked up and trained in mixed martial arts.

But Chief Keith McCaskill said paying officers to spend time in the gym would mean up to one-quarter fewer units out in the city, which has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

‘’We want to be physically fit and we encourage that, but our main job as police officers is to be able to provide the services necessary for the citizens we serve,’’ McCaskill said Wednesday.

‘’That means getting our officers out on the streets as much as we possibly can to be able to answer those calls.’’

It’s an issue that will likely be discussed in upcoming contract negotiations with the Winnipeg Police Association, he said.

Police forces in Calgary and Victoria – which operate on 12-hour shifts – get time during their workday for physical fitness. Other cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, say officers tend to exercise during their lunch break.

The RCMP collective agreement allows for one hour per week for physical fitness, but that time has to be made up either by coming in a bit early or leaving a bit late.

Charles Momy, president of the Canadian Police Association, said police put their bodies under a considerable amount of stress and need to be in shape.

‘’You are going from sitting in a police car to within potentially a second having your blood pressure go up significantly,’’ said Momy, adding that officers wear seven kilograms of equipment around their waist at all times.

’’That’s going to take a toll on a person’s body. You need an individual who is in pretty good shape.’’

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