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NYPD To Cops: Just Say No - To Doughnuts

June 16, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ The few. The proud. The flabby?

Concerned that too many cops fall into the last category, the New York Police Department is revamping its physical fitness standards.

Police Commissioner William Bratton plans to put the department, the nation’s largest, on a new diet this fall. It includes pre-employment physical exams for all recruits, tougher fitness testing for Police Academy graduation, and new standards for the 31,000 cops already carrying badges.

Bratton says he wants a force that is leaner, meaner - and better looking.

″There’s a safety issue, but there’s also an appearance issue,″ Bratton said. ″Imagine John Q. Public seeing that 300-pounder and saying to himself, ‘How the hell can that person help me?’ ″

Bratton, who took over in January, ordered a review of fitness policies last month after watching a videotape of recruits lumbering through an obstacle course.

What he saw made his stomach turn: overweight cadets literally bouncing off a 5-foot-high wall they were supposed to scale in a simulated pursuit of a bad guy.

In the late 1970s, the department began changing its fitness standards to accommodate greater diversity in its ranks, including more women. But it soon became too accommodating, Julian said.

Since 1986, 18,000 recruits were hired without having to pass a physical. Once in the academy, their only obstacle was a fitness test ″any 7-year-old could pass with ease,″ Chief of Personnel Michael Julian said.

Julian is developing policies that will screen soft applicants through body-fat, grip-strength and running tests, plus maintain standards on the existing force with periodic physicals. He also fired 12 ″holdover″ recruits who already flunked the academy fitness exams.

Seven of those fired - six women and one man - filed a complaint last month with the city Human Rights Commission, alleging discrimination based on a ″perceived disability,″ said commission spokeswoman Nydia Negron. The department plans to fight their reinstatement.

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