Research Collaboration with Regional Law Enforcement Academy Strives to Assist in Officer Resilience Initiative

The Texas A&M University – Commerce Health and Human Performance Department and the Tactical Department of Jabai Performance currently collaborate with CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy to provide resources and educational trainings for both cadets and physical fitness instructors. Prior to discussing the current research study, we must discuss the background behind a typically academy setting and the professionals involved in the collaboration.

Law Enforcement Academy Background (baseline of understanding)

Individuals interested in becoming a law enforcement officer must complete a basic peace office course (BPOC) prior to taking the State of Texas Peace Officer licensing exam. Individuals can apply for training at their personal expense or become sponsored by a police department. To be sponsored means that an agency is covering the expense of the academy, provides a cadet salary, and has been hired for a pre-determined designated staff position once he/she has graduated the academy. In the State of Texas, the minimum curriculum and hours of instruction are regulated by the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement (TCOLE).  Currently TCOLE requires a minimum of 720 hours of core course instruction. All of TCOLE’s mandated curriculum is included in the state curriculum schedule.  The academy instructing the BPOC can always include additional content/instruction/lectures as long as the information is documented in their lesson plan and instructional material.  Additional information must be approved by academy administrators. As a general rule of thumb, this type of material surpasses the minimum standard and increases the students’ knowledge of a topic; or is often presented to aid the students in better understanding how the topic relates directly to their field.

Physical Fitness and PT Instructors within a BPOC

From experience obtained through observing and interacting with academies, most do not require personnel to pass a physical fitness/agility test prior to enrolling into the academy class. Additionally, many academies do not require any form of physical fitness/agility testing as a qualification to graduate. While there are a few academies which do have this type of testing, most, if any physical fitness/agility testing will fall onto the agency or entity through their hiring process. Typically speaking, agencies also include a written exam and oral board as a part of this process.

The physical fitness curriculum and training of any law enforcement academy drives the frontline image of what physical fitness for officers should look like. The general public along with cadets have a predisposed opinion on the “best” methods of physical fitness for officers.  Academy instruction holds a huge influence and impact regarding fitness and nutrition for officers. Most people are not aware of time restraints due to curriculum requirements, agenda and testing.  Cadets often experience a base line of mental/emotional stress of being in an academy.  TCOLE requires that cadets receive instruction over 42 topics in a 6-month BPOC. Information within the training blocks is extensive and testable at the end of each topic. As it relates to physical training, thriving for quality of sessions over quantity assists with cadet performance.  This assistance in cadet physical training occurs initially in reducing stress, and remains with the cadet for the longevity of his/her professional career. The physical fitness instructor of an academy setting should be an educator.  They are the frontrunner of information regarding all aspects of fitness and nutrition for cadet development and officer resilience. The role of a physical fitness instructor should also empower cadets to perform various methods of training, recovery, and proper nutrition. An instructor must also recognize the scope of their personal training and experience to defer questions to appropriate professional(s).

 The Texas A&M University – Commerce ROARHP Lab (know the research team)

The Health and Human Performance Department at Texas A&M University – Commerce has developed a research team designated to aid the wellness initiative for local first responders. The tactical research team is part of the ROARHP Lab.  The lab is comprised of professionals of different scopes of practice including current graduate research assistants, and undergraduate students.  The team works together in performing baseline assessments for tactical personnel. The research team is led by lab director, Dr. Vipa Bernhardt and lead tactical research investigator, Dr. Michael Oldham. Dr. Michael Oldham specializes in first responders and tactical populations in the areas of resiliency and sleep through heart rate variability data; and mobility assessment through markerless motion capture video analysis. The team is also accompanied by Kaylie Daniels, a registered dietician that assists the first responder wellness initiative through nutrition interventions.

Texas A&M University – Commerce ROARHP Lab Mission Statement and Purpose

The mission of the Texas A&M University Commerce ROAR-HP Lab is to provide a personal, accessible, and affordable educational experience for a diverse community of learners within first responder and tactical populations. We engage in creative discovery, and dissemination of knowledge and ideas, for service, leadership, and innovation, in the interconnected and dynamic world of public service. The mission statement is accomplished by ceaseless industry, fearless investigation, unfettered thought, unselfish service to others, and specialized training and assessment modalities, unique to the first responder and tactical landscape.

Research Collaboration with CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA)

The research team and Jabai Performance’s tactical department collaborated with CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) in Austin, Tx to construct a specialized assessment battery for evaluating movement, components of fitness, and body composition of BPOC cadets.  The selected tests are meant to analyze the progression of physical fitness that cadets experience through the strength and conditioning program provided within the designated BPOC class.  Evaluation is performed through pre-academy and post-academy testing. The assessments provide an analysis of physical aspects of fitness which may otherwise regress during months of stress undertaken by cadets during a law enforcement academy course. CAPCOG RLEA’s BPOC is divided into a day class or night class, in which the physical fitness instructor began to strategically structure 30-60 min physical fitness sessions into the day class’ schedule. Currently the night class is organized in a schedule which allows for Cadets to also have full time day jobs. Due to time restraints the night class participates in voluntary physical training.  It is the intent of CAPCOG to add physical training to future night BPOCs. The assessments over the two classes took place voluntarily over a 2-day period. No advantage or incentive of any kind was solicited for participation. Cadets which decided to participate in the study, can also opt out at any point without consequence. Cadets that participated in the study will be re-assessed after 6-months of their initial baseline testing, following the same timeline for a typical law enforcement academy day BPOC.

Jabai Performance – Tactical Department Involvement

The Chief Instructor of CAPCOG, Sergio Flores, met with Hussien Jabai, the tactical strength and conditioning coordinator of Jabai Performance’s tactical department, prior to the BPOC classes to participate in a round table discussion. Physical fitness instructor development was the focal topic to identify cadet needs and best practices for meeting ideal physical requirements. The two parties agreed that any personnel instructing the physical fitness program of an academy should meet two core objectives.  First is to have both a working understanding of tactical strength and conditioning.  Second is to address the role that a structured program has toward the longevity of health of a cadet for his/her career and post-retirement. Jabai and Flores spent multiple hours working through basic programming considerations, categories of movement, and job analysis of cadets/officers. The initial discussion has turned into an on-going dialogue between Jabai Performance and CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s physical fitness instructors.

Reassessment

The TAMUC ROARHP Lab Tactical Research Team is scheduled to complete CAPCOG post-academy assessments in February 2022 at Austin, TX.

Author: Hussien Jabai | Tactical Strength and Conditioning Coordinator of Jabai Performance

Graduate research assistant evaluates lower body mobility of law enforcement academy cadet.
Kaylie Daniels and undergraduate research assist acquire body composition measurements of law enforcement academy cadets.
Dr. Michael Oldham and graduate research assistant utilizing the DARI Motion system for movement analysis.
Graduate research assistant evaluates lower body mobility of law enforcement academy cadet.

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