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2015 Officer Wellness Finalist
In 2011, after attending a session at the FBI’s National Academy, then-Lieutenant James Band brought the notion of increasing the department’s physical fitness, the importance of which is emphasized at the FBINA. He then began to explore the CrossFit method of training, recently having been exposed to the exercise regimen.
Now as the Chief of the Oregon City (OR) Police Department, Chief Band heads an agency of 60 employees, 43 of whom are full-time officers. He worked to acquire some new training equipment and has incorporated the popular CrossFit principles into a wellness program for the agency. This group fitness program makes for “healthier, happier cops.”
Following the death of one of their officers, the Chief recognized the need for a strong coping strategy and means through which officers can—physically and collectively— work out their stress. He named the voluntary exercise program “CrossFit 1850,” symbolic of the year the agency was founded, and he touts the fact that his agency is the oldest established sheriff’s office west of the Mississippi. The program was featured in a CrossFit Journal.
This program is top-down, as the Chief is often in the gym teaching CrossFit and working out alongside his officers. The Crossfit model was selected due to its ability to meet the physical dynamics of being a police officer, as the workouts follow an alternating regimen that require bursts of energy and endurance. Since the exercises are group workouts, they help build comradery. Workouts are scalable to each person’s physical ability. To encourage employee participation, a certified trainer was hired to consult with individuals and help them develop a workout routine.
In conjunction with the exercise program, the department also makes a nutritionist available to help employees achieve their dietary goals. In the first year implemented, the Chief estimates the CrossFit program helped the agency collectively dropped over 500 pounds. Since then, the program has grown, with about 30% of agency employees regularly participating and several family members also taking part in the program.
Chief Band reported that Wendy Libke, widow of the department’s fallen officer, has started coming to the workouts. The program has been a great success in building unity, fitness, and helping reduce stress for both the officers and their family members.