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College Students Training Law Enforcement Officers: The Officer Charlie Get Fit Project

Lawrence W. Judge, Tonya Skalon, Makenzie A. Schoeff, Shannon Powers, James Johnson, Brandon Henry, Ashley Burns, David Bellar


While most law enforcement agencies recognize the importance of physical fitness for their officers and encourage them to maintain an adequate level of fitness, many find it difficult to implement a fitness program successfully. Prior studies and literature support the implementation of community-centered fitness initiatives. The purpose of this study was to (1) describe participant outcomes from the service- learning project Officer Charlie Get Fit Project and (2) delineate Kolb’s experiential learning model implemented by undergraduate kinesiology majors when applied in an exercise setting. Students were charged with working directly with police officers over an 8-week program with the goal of lowering health-risk factors for the participants. Additionally, the project provided an opportunity for students to assess their own learning style and infuse it in a real-world professional application. Participants included 16 police officers (M = 44.6, SD = 10.7 years of age) and one elected city administrative official. Paired sample t tests revealed nonsignificant differences between the pretest and posttest scores on the 10 fitness measures. Descriptive statistics revealed improvements in categories of body weight, BMI, waist circumference, hip circumference, resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, sum of skinfolds, and overall body fat percentage. Participant exit interviews indicated positive qualitative results. The student reflection piece indicated that the frequent writing helped with (1) the myriad of planning and preparation issues, (2) selecting a community partner and recruiting participants, and (3) data collection and analysis. This study was an important assessment of immersive learning opportunities provided through classroom lecture and development of community partnerships.

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