Work sample test battery performance in law enforcement recruits

Robert G. Lockie, M. Beitzel, Rob Marc Orr, Michael Stierli, Joe Dulla, James Dawes

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INTRODUCTION: Law enforcement recruits are generally required to complete state-mandated physical tests prior to graduating the academy. These tests, which are typically completed as part of a work sample test battery (WSTB), are related to essential job tasks (e.g., pursuit of a suspect, civilian rescue, and obstacle clearance). Certain law enforcement agencies (LEAs) allow for a ‘pre-test’ midway through academy to familiarize recruits to the tests. The ‘post-test’ is completed as part of an academy capstone where recruits must attain a certain standard. It would be ideal for WSTB performance to be optimized by the completion of the academy; however, this may be dependent on the characteristics of recruits within a class. PURPOSE: To determine changes in the WSTB performed by recruits from two classes from a LEA. METHODS: Retrospective analysis on two academy classes from one LEA that completed a 22-week training program was conducted. Class 1 had 69 recruits with pre- and post-test WSTB data, while Class 2 had 59 recruits. The LEA training staff conducted pre- (approximately halfway through academy) and post-testing (end of academy) for each class according to standards established by the state. Data were combined for males and females as all recruits must attain the same minimum standards regardless of sex or age. The WSTB comprised five tests that were completed for time: an agility run (AR) around a 99-yard obstacle course; a body drag (BD) with a 165-pound dummy; a climb over a six-foot chain link fence (CL); a climb over a six-foot solid wall (SW); and a 500-yard run (500R). A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was utilized to determine any between-class differences in age, height, and body mass, with significance set as p < 0.05. Multiple mixed factorial ANOVAs (p < 0.05) were used to calculate mean differences between the classes on pre- and post-tests for the WSTB. RESULTS: There were no significant between-class differences in age, height, or body mass (p = 0.12-0.97). There was no significant interaction for class and time in the AR (p = 0.49). However, Class 1 was significantly slower overall than Class 2 (p = 0.04), and the overall post-test AR performance was significantly faster (p = 0.02). For the results that had a significant class interaction, Class 1 was significantly slower in the pre-test BD, CL, and SW compared to Class 2 (p < 0.01). By the end of academy, Class 1 were significantly faster in the BD, CL, SW, and 500R, while Class 2 were faster in the BD (p < 0.01). There was no significant change between the pre- and post-tests for Class 2 in the SW and 500R (p = 0.07-0.70), and Class 2 recruits were significantly slower in the CL by the end of academy (p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Different LEA academy classes will feature recruits with a range of fitness and skill levels. This could affect the ability of recruits to complete job-specific tasks, such as those in the WSTB. Although this study only analyzed two academy classes from a LEA, the results indicated Class 2 were generally superior in the pre-test WSTB when compared to Class 1. Following this pre-test, Class 1 recruits were able to improve most aspects of the WSTB. It could be surmised that academy training appeared conducive to improving WSTB performance for Class 1 recruits, either via changes in fitness or skill. In contrast for Class 2 recruits, the training that followed WSTB pre-testing may have been less than optimal as there was no significant change in SW and 500R, and CL performance was slower. This may be a concern if the WSTB is used as an indicator of job performance. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: LEA staff should tailor physical training specific to each class to enhance fitness and skill performance as assessed by tests such as the WSTB. Moreover, LEA training staff should attempt to periodize training to optimize WSTB performance by the end of academy. This is especially true if these tests are considered representative of job tasks specific to law enforcement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event41st National Strength and Conditioning Association National Conference and Exhibition - Indianapolis, United States
Duration: 11 Jul 201814 Jul 2018


Conference41st National Strength and Conditioning Association National Conference and Exhibition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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