Physical fitness and police shootings

In a discussion on the cowardice exhibited by the Uvalde police (school district or otherwise), Twitter user Frizzy Missy points to widespread lack of fitness among police, citing this article (PDF) appearing on “Gilmore Health News” which I have never heard of.

This article, headlined “Police Recruitment Poor Standards: Physically Unfit Cops Are More Likely to Use Lethal Force” was unusal for me in that the headline posits a statistical association that it does not even bother to support in the text.

The article in fact makes many assertions that it does not bother to back up. It first posits a “steady decline in standards” for physical fitness: “…a good number of police departments in an attempt to attract people to this low-pay [?], high-risk [??] job, have loosened a lot of these age-long [???], military-style standards.” The closest it comes to supporting this is “an FBI study reveals that eight of every ten police officers are overweight.” There are a couple of problems here. First and most obviously, this statistic says nothing about trends over time (if 90% of police officers were overweight in 1980, then police are becoming more fit) and second, I cannot even find this statistic! When I search for it, all roads lead to a Dallas/Ft Worth CBS article which itself contains no links and focuses on a local police department implementing policy to improve officer fitness.

The article points to the high number of shootings by police officers, and its logic basically is, “We have a high presence of the overweight among police, and the United States has a high number of police-related fatalities, and so the two must be related”.

I am a bit surprised at how poor this piece is, but the fact that it is out there, and people are touting it on social media, makes it a great example for quantitative literacy classes.