Tags: fbi | physical fitness | test | james comey | hoover

FBI, Finding Agents Out of Shape, Reinstates Fitness Test

By    |   Monday, 06 April 2015 09:37 AM

The FBI is requiring its agents, for the first time in nearly two decades, to pass a tough fitness test because the stresses of fighting terrorism and cybercrime have left many agents working long hours with little time to keep physically fit.

The fitness tests started at the end of last year, with FBI Director James Comey sending a memo to agents to inform them that their lives, the people they protect, and their colleagues' lives "may well depend upon your ability to run, fight, and shoot, no matter what job you hold," reports The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the letter.

"I want the American people to be able to take one glance at you and think, 'THERE is a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,'" Comey wrote. "I want you to look like the squared-away object of that reverence."

Fitness tests are actually part of an FBI tradition started by its first director, J. Edgar Hoover, a large man who was obsessed about his agents' weight.

But the bureau has transformed since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, with work that used to take agents out into the field now requiring them to put in more desk time, while others are sent overseas to the Middle East.

As a result, The Times reports, some agents gained weight, while others suffered from depression as their stress grew.

"You could see that health and fitness was not the priority it used to be," said Zachary Lowe Jr., the chief of instruction at the F.B.I.’s academy in Quantico, Virginia, where the test was developed.

The test ensures agents can move quickly, and while weight limits aren't set, the requirements in four different exercises are tough and designed based on agents' age and gender.

Male agents between the ages of 30 to 39 must be able to do 24 pushups without stopping and at least 35 situps in a minute. They also need to be able to run a mile and a half in 12 minutes and 53 seconds, and run 300 meters in less than a minute. Agents only get a five-minute breather between exercises.

Fitness, though, is required for new trainees, who are told in a job description that they must be in good shape to withstand the job's physical rigors, and that they must also pass the FBI's physical fitness test.

"Agent trainees get a variety of fitness training and must pass a standardized physical fitness test," the description says. "To pass the test, trainees must achieve a minimum cumulative score of 12 points with at least one point in each of four areas: sit-ups in one minute; timed 300-meter sprint, push-ups (untimed), and [a] timed 1.5-mile run."

All FBI agents have until October to take the test, but many haven't done so yet. At the FBI office in Washington, just 75 of the 800 agents have taken the test.

"It's really not that hard," said Jennifer Schick, a public corruption agent at the FBI’s Washington field office who also oversees fitness training and tests. "Most agents wouldn’t be satisfied in just coming out and making the minimum. They would be embarrassed by that, and that is why they’re waiting."

Schick teaches training sessions in Washington, but said that there were some agents who "told me they are embarrassed to come and show other people how out of shape they are, and that's a shame because they are the ones who really need it."

Mandatory fitness tests were given to agents throughout the 1980s and '90s, but the FBI stopped them in 1999.

Comey says he got the idea to restore the tests after he became director in 2013 and started touring field offices, and learned that fitness standards were enforced for new agents but not ones already on the job.

Comey, however, will not have to take the test, The Times reports, because he is not an FBI agent.

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The FBI is requiring all its agents, for the first time in nearly two decades, to pass a fitness test because the stresses of fighting terrorism and cybercrime have left agents working long hours with little time to keep physically fit.
fbi, physical fitness, test, james comey, hoover
Monday, 06 April 2015 09:37 AM
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