‘Unfit’ WA police taken off front line duties

WA police patch

Seventeen WA police officers were taken off frontline duties after they could not pass a basic fitness test.

The officers were given two chances within three months to complete the untimed obstacle course and after failing were forced to see a doctor before their operational status was withdrawn. Six of the officers have since passed the test and returned to frontline duties but 11 remain desk-bound.

WA Police introduced the compulsory “deployment readiness tests” last year to ensure operational officers were capable of frontline duties.

The Police Union said it was important officers could support their partners but questioned whether the “carnage” was worth it, with 37 officers injured doing the test.

There is no time limit but officers must complete the course without stopping.

It includes a 200m “foot chase” where they must climb a 1.5m fence, jump knee-high hurdles, clear a 1.5m ditch and run up stairs.

They then have to “take down” a 40kg weight to replicate subduing an offender, handcuff a dummy and carry a 35kg load.

Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan at the obstacle course. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

A WA Police spokeswoman said the test had alerted officers to their obligation to maintain the physical ability to perform their roles.

“The community quite rightly expects that our police officers are ready for the challenges of frontline deployment,” she said.

The 11 men and women — seven senior constables and four sergeants— forced into office-based duties represent 0.26 per cent of the 4125 officers tested last year. It is below the 2 per cent failure rate in other places that use similar tests.

Union president George Til-bury believed the test exposed officers to unnecessary risks, saying seven of the 37 hurt needed surgery and one had complications from a broken leg that had ended her operational career.

“We estimate the total cost to the agency for injuries related to the DRT accumulate to $2.1 million,” he said.“The financial implications, as well as the physical carnage need to be weighed up to determine whether the DRT really is worth it.”

Officers must prove their fitness for the frontline. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

A police review has decided to keep the annual test without time limits but consider further health and fitness initiatives.

On average officers have completed the course in three minutes and three seconds.

Mr Tilbury said changes were needed to improve safety, including holding the test indoors only and making obstacles – including a wall – more stable.

Officers who do not finish the course are offered health, fitness and medical support.

Officers must handcuff a dummy during the test. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

The spokeswoman said the test alone was not means to remove an officer from WA Police.

But if it was determined an officer would never make it through the course, that was considered in context of their overall medical suitability to provide active service.