Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Mark A. Stallo
After employment, job-related fitness requirements vary for law enforcement agencies within North Carolina. Police academies mandate specific job-related fitness requirements for recruits as a condition of graduation. Once employed, little is known about why some law enforcement agencies in North Carolina have physical fitness policies and others do not, particularly when injury rates and healthcare costs continue to rise. To better understand this inconsistency, the current study used a mixed methods approach to examine 6 midsized law enforcement agencies in North Carolina with varying fitness policies. The policy of each agency, along with OSHA work-related injuries and absenteeism reports, were examined quantitatively to determine if a relationship existed between policy and injuries and absenteeism. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and post-hoc tests found a greater statistical significance between policy levels and injury rates than between policy level and absenteeism rates. An interview with agency personnel qualitatively identified common themed responses to determine whether the utility function of rational choice theory explained fitness policy implementation. It was difficult to determine whether the utilitarian component was the reason behind policy decisions, but data-driven results seemed to serve as an agent of fitness policy decision making. The results contributed to the limited academic literature on this topic although further research recommendations were made. The findings advocate for better officer health and fitness standards to reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries and absenteeism, and reduce health care costs to all involved.