The Georgia Sheriff’s Association is asking to rescind the new PT test operated by the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), which has a 4% fail rate among this year’s recruits.
Early this year, the state of Georgia implemented a basic physical fitness test for all recruits to be admitted to the police academy, as part of a screening measure to weed out physically unfit recruits, according to a Fox5 Atlanta report.
The move to screen new recruits before admitting them to the academy came after two recruits died during academy training a few years ago, including a Forsyth deputy who collapsed due to cardiac arrest.
Executive director Mike Ayers of Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) explained, “We’ve got to do a little bit better, take a little more care screening who we’re allowing in.”
The test, a timed obstacle course that must be completed in 2 minutes 6 seconds to pass, has proved to be an adequate measure of which recruits will go on to fail the 11-week academy training program. Last year, the GPSTC tested the new standards on recruits before making it mandatory, and discovered that 74% of those who failed to complete the academy training program also failed the PT test, making it a good litmus test.
So far this year, no recruits who passed the screening test have quit during the first week of the academy, according to executive director of GPSTC Chris Wigginton, which shows that the test is providing value to the academy and police departments.
Wigginton said, “No one quit the first week. At the Academy, by this time we normally have several quit throughout the first day and week for a variety of reasons.”
Despite the success, George Sheriff’s Association objected to the new test due to a lack of eligible candidates. Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jerrard, past president of the association, told Fox5 that there have been fewer applicants this year due to public opinion towards police, which has strained many departments across the state.
He said, “I’m hearing a lot of people throughout the state are not able to get into the Academy due to the requirements at this time…We agree with the intent of the rules. We’re just asking for POST to be mindful of the sheriffs not being able to get a candidate at this time due to the way the nation looks at law enforcement. We just don’t have a lot of candidates.”
Notwithstanding the pushback, the GPSTC plans to continue requiring the test given its success so far and its ability to save money. Wigginton explained, “”I think that would be fiscally irresponsible for me as a state agency when I told you that 74% of those individuals ended failing at a later point anyway…I think you’re just getting a better-quality candidate with all these requirements.”