For many police officers, being physically and mentally prepared to act immediately in an emergency is an important part of the job.
But patrol hours are long and unremarkable; odd-hour jobs that disrupt sleep and eating habits; and the daily stress of police work can make maintaining the necessary level of fitness a challenge.
To help the 40 officers of the Northern Regional Police Department meet the physical demands of their jobs, the owner of a All Fitness company with ties to the Pittsburgh area donated $50,000 worth of exercise equipment.
Jack Daly, a Dormont native and owner of TRX Training, outfitted the department with a complete fitness system set up in part of a public security garage on Jan. Commemorate National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
Daly’s donation was made in conjunction with Performance Inspired, a Cranberry-based nutrition company owned by Tom Dowd and actor Mark Wahlberg.
Daly said company officials considered postponing Monday’s presentation out of respect for slain Brackenridge Police Chief Justin McIntyre.
“We’re very focused on what’s been happening on the ground over the past week, and it’s been really heartbreaking and reminds us in so many ways of how important your work is,” he told a group of officials.
Daly said company officials left the decision on whether to proceed with the demonstration to Northern Regional Police Chief John Sicilia.
“The Chiefs told me we should stay the course because sometimes you can do something good to offset the bad things that have happened, and that helps,” Daly said.
Sicily said he thought about the decision before concluding that it could be a morale booster for law enforcement across the region.
“I really appreciate your recognition of the difficult times we are all going through; Chief McIntyre made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sicily said.
“Sometimes we forget that we are appreciated by business leaders and communities,” he said. “I think it’s a good reminder to all of our officers that you have our thoughts in mind and we appreciate that.”
Wahlberg, who is filming in Atlanta, apologized for not being there.
“I wish I was there,” he said on the phone.
The actor briefly joked with police officers before urging them to “stay safe”.
“I hope to meet you in person,” he said. “God bless you.”
In his presentation, Daly noted that TRX founder Randy Hetrick, a former Navy SEAL squadron commander, developed the suspension training system by combining straps he found on ships so that team members You can work out without a gym.
“We recognize that, like the Navy SEALs, you have chosen an area that takes enormous risks on behalf of all of us,” he said. “Donating this equipment is a small way of recognizing the work you do.”
Sicily said he encouraged his officers to take fitness seriously.
“We’re trying to create a healthy culture here,” he said. “It helps officers perform better and perform better.”
Having the opportunity to exercise before or after a shift, or even during lunch breaks, could also help officers make exercise part of their routine “even as life changes” and they are busy with family and other responsibilities when they are off duty.
A high level of fitness can help officers avoid some of the injuries common to law enforcement, such as muscle and ligament strains or back problems.
Working at the scene of an accident or fire is sometimes physically demanding, and officers never know when they might have to sprint or wrestle with an uncooperative suspect.
“The better your fitness is, the better your chances of avoiding injury in these situations,” Sicily said.
An in-house gym will also allow officers to exercise when access to a gym is difficult or impossible.
“They work 12-hour shifts with different hours, so sometimes the gym isn’t open even if they want to work out,” he said. “We are very grateful to have this fitness room on site, and it also gives our officers the opportunity to work out with colleagues, which helps with team building.”
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Tribune Opinion. You can reach Tony by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .