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Are you tough enough to be a Federal Way cop?
Dressed in gym attire, jerseys draped over their torsos, approximately 50 men and woman silently awaited instruction Saturday on how their first test as a potential Federal Way police officer would proceed.
Participants spent the majority of their day completing physical and written tests required as part of the hiring process.
Though most did well on their physical testing, only a small majority will go on to serve Federal Way.
Some are just not strong enough for the job.
“When you are a police officer, you constantly have your finger on the pulse of society,” Federal Way police Cmdr. Kyle Sumpter said. “We spend all day, every day or night, addressing something bad in society, so you cannot help getting a perspective on society that it is bad or badder (sic) than other people see it.”
The physical fitness examination is the first test to determine if one is ready for police work.
This process takes a few hours to complete and includes a 300-meter dash, push-ups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run. Each exercise has a minimum and maximum set of requirements, and in order to pass the full test, one must pass each of its components.
“They are not difficult at all for anyone in moderate physical shape,” Sumpter said.
Federal Way Police Department recruits from across the region met early morning Saturday at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.
Organized by colored jerseys and numbers, the operation was militaristic. Few shared with fellow competitors their names or why they were there. Instead, they remained mostly silent, awaiting instructions.
“Police departments are para-military organizations,” Sumpter said. “There’s no way around it. There must be discipline.”
All but one event, the push-ups, was timed. All forms of encouragement came in the form of phrases such as “go number four” or “faster purple.” Anyone not able to pass a section of the test was asked to either try again later or leave immediately.
For Kendra Cullimore, one of two females that participated in the testing, the run at becoming an officer ended with the failure to complete a minimum of 30 sit-ups — successfully performed with the buttocks firm on the ground, hands interlocked behind one’s head and elbows completing the journey from the floor mat to the competitor’s bent knees — in one minute.
Cullimore knew she was not in top physical condition and did not expect to complete the full test Saturday, she said. She plans to begin training and will return for another testing session.
“I’ll be back,” Cullimore said. “I know today’s not my day.”
Her desire to be a police officer is rooted in her two and a half years spent in the U.S. Army.
“I really miss the sense of camaraderie,” Cullimore said.
Nick Long, another recruit, excelled in his physical testing. He completed all four events and was happy with the scores he received. He trained for two and a half months, he said. He also completed ride-alongs with Federal Way police officers as a way to prepare for a possible police career here. Long’s desire to pursue policing stems from longing for a job that differs from day to day.
“It’s exciting. It’s a job that’s always challenging,” he said.
More testing and training
The recruits who successfully finished the physical exam went on to complete the written exam.
They will not know for another week or two if they passed that test. The next step to becoming an officer for those men and women will be an oral exam. Enrollment in the police academy and three to six months of field training will follow. Those who are physically and mentally strong enough to handle the job will go on to become police officers.
The first few years of an officer’s career are typically the most difficult because this is when many may realize the job is not what they envisioned, Sumpter said. It is not like television cop shows, he said.
Policing includes a steep learning curve that, for some, ends when their enthusiasm for helping people hits a wall, Sumpter said.
Check it out:
On Sept. 5, the police department began its Citizens Academy, an eight-week program designed to educate the public on how the Federal Way police operate. In the next few weeks, The Mirror, with the help of the Federal Way police, will explore what it takes to become a cop.
A look into patrol, traffic enforcement, criminal investigations, the Valley Communications 911 center, K-9, narcotics and vice operations will be explored. Keep reading for more stories on who Federal Way’s police are and why they do what they do.
Following are the testing requirements police recruits must meet for their physical testing:
300 meter dash: completed in 56 to 71 seconds
Push-ups: 21 to 35 completed in an unlimited amount of time
Sit-ups: 30 to 38 completed in one minute
Mile and one-half run: completed in 13:35 to 14:31 minutes