Carson City Sheriff’s Office institutes physical fitness program
Between work, school, family and friends it can be difficult to find the time to hit the gym. However, the Carson City Sheriff’s Office is giving its deputies the opportunity to work out at work.
Sheriff Ken Furlong enacted an initiative nearly two months ago that allows the deputies one hour during their shift to work out in order to improve their fitness and reduce officers out for injury.
“There are a number of considerations critical to allowing fitness to have a high priority,” Furlong said. “This occupation can be stressful and as a result we recognize the more fit the deputies, the more capable they will be to manage day to day stress.”
Furlong said this is important to not only keep the deputies mentally healthy, but also physically.
“Maintaining that physical fitness can be critical to their ability to effectively end a deadly circumstance,” Furlong said.
The department tries to offer incentives to deputies to keep them healthy and this program is another step in the direction, Furlong said. Each year, the deputies have the option to complete a physical fitness test equivalent to the POST entry exam all new officers have to take. Furlong said he hopes that by giving deputies the option to work on shift, more will participate in the fitness exam resulting in a healthier department.
“The city has been doing this for years with weight loss challenges and programs and we are just jumping on board,” Furlong said. “We realized that a 30- to 45-minute workout doesn’t have an impact on calls for service and in the end we are presenting you with a better officer.”
The shift sergeants are in charge of supervising the workout regimes; dictating when and if the officers are able to exercise as to not impact their duties. Furlong said this process hasn’t affected their calls for service.
“This merely allows the supervisors to see when the deputies can clear from the road, do their regiment, clean up and get back to work,” Furlong said.
The deputies can choose what they want to do for their routine and where. The department allows them to work out in the in-house facility, with equipment funded by the Deputies, Sergeants and Captains associations, or if they want to go to a different gym in town.
Though the initiative is new, it has been met with positivity from the department
“This has been perceived exceptionally well,” said Deputy Darrin Riggin.
“People say they don’t have time to work out and now we get paid to do it and it forces the deputies to be involved in their workout. People who never used to work out do every day now, there is no negative impact.”
Riggin said while it may seem counterproductive for the city to pay for officers to be in the gym, in the long run it pays off.
“Good physical fitness is good for the city and the department because it cuts on injuries, worker’s compensation and all sorts of issues,” Riggin said. “Officers who work out an hour on shift drastically reduce the risk of heart disease and extend their lives.”
Studies show for every dollar agencies spend on physical fitness, they save $2 in worker’s compensation and other injury related issues, Riggin said.
“I think this shows that the department cares about the health and well being of its employees,” Riggin said.
“A lot of agencies and businesses don’t look at the long term picture. It saves money and simultaneously it betters our health, which improves our moods and attitudes at work. There are just tons and tons of benefits.”
This new initiative doesn’t just apply to the deputies; all employees in the Sheriff’s Office and Nevada Highway Patrol substation are welcome to participate. Furlong said they’re in the process of installing exercise equipment in the dispatch center so they can be involved as well.
The department is also hoping to include a nutritional plan as well in addition to the deputies’ workout routines.
“We have seen so many deputies already with weight loss and fitness is becoming a lifestyle and we want that to continue,” Furlong said.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of the health of our employees. This has been very positive and we want to keep it going.”