Q: Jason, do the Sandusky police officers have fitness standards? I've generally had good interactions with the SPD, but I recently witnessed an incident when a suspect got away, partly because, in my opinion, one of the officers chasing him wasn't in good shape. It seems to me police officers are role models and should be in good fitness to set an example for the rest of the community. God Bless.
-- Melissa on Monroe Street
A: The police department does have a fitness test every year, but officers have the option of not participating in it. This year 33 of the 47 officers participated. The test involves running 50 feet, climbing a 6-foot fence, running another quarter mile, climbing a 4-foot fence, dragging a 175-pound mannequin 50 feet and then firing 27 rounds with a service revolver while keeping a steady hand. The officers who take the test have to complete the course in 3 minutes and 45 seconds.
If officers in the union pass the test, they get a $600 bonus. If they don't participate or if they fail the test, they get nothing. Up until six years ago, officers used to have pass the fitness test or face some sort of disciplinary action. But two contracts ago the police union negotiated that out of the labor agreement, according to Assistant Chief Charlie Sams.
So the answer to your question is no. They aren't required to pass a fitness test. But many of them do take the test in hopes of getting paid.
I agree with you, however, that all officers should have to participate. While most of the SPD appears to be in good shape, there are several who could definitely improve. Like you, I think it's important for officers to be in good shape: First, because it helps them do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Second, because it sets a good example for the community.
Q: Can you give us your honest opinion on Julie Farrar's proposed sports complex? I know you've written articles that are critical of its origins. Is it possible that, despite its less-than-perfect beginnings, it's still a good idea?
-- Bradley on Huron Avenue
A: Good questions, Bradley. Personally, I don't have an opinion. And like the rest of the public, I don't know much about all the issues that led up to the project. Several things, however, need to happen before the city can evaluate the viability of the idea.
First, the public needs to learn about the project and all its details.
Second, the city needs concrete commitments on financing before moving forward.
And third, Julie and her committee need to come up with a good business plan that won't hurt the business of the YMCA or Nehemiah Partners' recreation center.
One of my big questions is this: Julie keeps saying the city has to own the sports complex so it can only charge $1 or $2 and all Sandusky kids can afford it. But if you charge only $1 or $2, how are you going to pay the bills? This, in addition to many other questions, Julie and her committee will have to answer.
But regardless of whether or not it's a good idea, it doesn't excuse bad behavior.
The Register and some city officials believe there are serious questions about how this sports complex developed. Did the city abuse its use of executive sessions? Why do some of the commissioners and officials not remember being told about the project? Why would the city would pay out invoices that don't explain any of the work that was done, and what will it do to prevent this from happening in the future?
It may be a great idea. I hope it is. I hope it brings tons of revenue to the city. But it's important to separate the city's behavior from the quality of the idea.
The city's behavior was very questionable -- the city has already hired an outside investigator to look into the matter. The Register, meanwhile, will continue to make city officials explain themselves. As for the idea of the sports complex, we need to know more information before deciding whether it's viable.
As Julie and interim city manager Don Icsman have said, "This is just the beginning of the process."
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