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Weston's Police Hopefuls Take Next Step

WESTON, Conn. – Cooper Whiteside of Danbury stretched outside the Weston Police Department's weight room Monday, waiting for his turn to test his sit-up, bench press and sit-and-reach skills. Whiteside said he has always wanted to be a police officer — especially in a small town.

"I like to help people," he said. "I would rather be in a small town. People get closer, like a family – as opposed to not knowing the people on the next shift."

Whiteside was one of 21 applicants who broke a sweat Monday while completing a fitness test for one police officer position in Weston. The applicants had to complete tests such as the sit and reach, sit-ups, the bench press and a 1.5-mile run.

Don Phoenix, another applicant, said the process has been fair and "keeps the serious people in and eliminates the people that just are flooding the market with applications." Phoenix, like Whiteside, has always wanted to be a police officer. For the past four years, he has worked in federal law enforcement with the Coast Guard.

Police Chief John Troxell said most injuries among police officers are in their lower back, and that's why the physical agility test is important. The requirements for each test varied based on the age, sex and weight of the candidate. A male candidate between 20 and 29 had to complete 40 sit-ups in one minute, reach 17.5 inches, bench press 1.06 x his body weight and run 1.5 miles in 11:49 minutes.

A total of 97 candidates applied for the position, and 75 applicants completed the written test in May. The 22 top candidates from the written test went on to take the oral test in early June. The top five chosen after the physical agility test will interview with the Police Commission. Any of the top five candidates can then receive a conditional offer and will complete a psychological test, a polygraph, background investigation and a comprehensive physical exam.

Troxell said he hopes to send an officer to the police academy Aug. 12. The new hire will replace an officer who is expected to leave the department by the end of September. The Weston Police Department has nine patrol officers, three sergeants, one detective and one chief.

What do you think is the best quality to look for in a potential candidate for a police officer? Leave your comments below.

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