Keeping SWAT officers fit to serve
by Andy Koen
(This was done when I was at the NSCA – When I was still a member and a proponent of that organization . . . Robb)
If carrying 70 pounds of body armor and tactical gear wasn’t physically strenuous enough, then the stress and adrenaline that flood the bodies of SWAT team officers while working a volatile crime scene can be downright exhausting. That is why members of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Tactical Enforcement Unit (SWAT) rely on Coach Rogers and staff at the National Strength and Conditioning Association to keep them at their peak physically and mentally.
During the past four years, the NSCA and the CSPD have blazed a cooperative trail in developing a series of specialized workouts just for the SWAT Team. It’s called functional fitness. Crouched in a firing stance, the officers cross the gym floor carrying 25 pound weights in place of an assault rifle while their partners use resistance bands to pull against them.
Coach Robb Rogers says this is just one of multiple exercises used to strengthen the muscle groups the officers rely on most to keep them healthy and safe in the field. “Core strength and stability becomes critically important with this type of athlete.”
Commander Thor Eels first initiated the partnership when the police department began looking for ways to improve their physical fitness testing program for selecting SWAT officers. One of the earliest benefits of the program has been the drop in work related injuries. However, Eels says the biggest benefit has been the improved ability of his officers to remain calm under pressure. High stress situations can easily force a fight or flight reflex that can cloud a person’s judgment. “A SWAT officer in a hostage rescue scenario only gets one chance to get it right, and they have to make the right decision,” Eels said. “I wanted them to be operating at the highest physical level possible to make good decisions.”
The training regiment has become a benchmark for fitness training within the law enforcement community around the country. Coach Rogers also consults with the California Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission to restructure the training manual and exercise protocols and procedures implemented at all Police Academy’s in the state of California. Robb also uses similar exercises to create a specialized training regiment for Special Forces soldiers from Fort Carson.
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