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Freindly Fire


Suit Over PSP Fitness Doesn't Add Up

by Chris Freind
 

After taking careful aim, he let the bullets fly, killing one Pennsylvania state trooper and severely injuring another in an ambush outside a police barracks. Suspect Eric Frein, a survivalist and sharpshooter, then fled into the wilderness, where he has eluded an army of police officers and FBI agents for almost two weeks.

Executing an unsuspecting police officer, while cowardly, nonetheless shows the sheer brutality of the shooter and his take-no-prisoners mentality. And given that he deliberately planned his attack on police, it is clear he wouldn't discriminate shooting a male or female officer. In his mind, he was (and is) at war with law enforcement (he passed on shooting a civilian outside the barracks), so any officer in his sights would have been, and remains, a target, gender be damned.

Should Frein still be in the wilderness, all officers, male and female alike, hoping to successfully track him must be in peak physical shape because of the region's rugged terrain. And should Frein be cornered by an officer, he will undoubtedly attempt to strike back with lethal force, attempting to kill a female officer just as quickly as he would a male to facilitate his escape.


Bottom line: Frein will show no discrimination killing police, treating all officers with equal opportunity contempt.

Therefore, since all officers face the same threats (not just from this suspect but in all situations, from car stops to home invasions), common sense tells us that all officers should be trained in the exact same way – and subject to the exact same fitness and academic standards, where gender has no bearing whatsoever.

Yet, if the Obama administration has its way, that standard would be shot to pieces.

In his belief that employing the same physical standards for both male and female cadets is discriminatory against women and a violation of the Civil Rights Act, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has filed suit against the Pennsylvania State Police, attempting to force it to change its physical requirements for females (and compensate women who have failed the test). The Justice Department claims "through the use of these physical fitness tests, defendants (the state police) have engaged in a pattern or practice of employment discrimination against women" and that "defendants' use of physical fitness tests are not job-related for the entry-level trooper position, (and) is not consistent with business necessity."

And there you have it. Another classic example of a lawsuit dreamt up by armchair bureaucrats completely lacking real-world experience – and real-world common sense.

How are physical fitness tests not "job-related" or a "business necessity?" When a bad guy flees, the police pursue, often on foot. Physically giving chase to, and ultimately overtaking, criminal suspects is a big part of the job. And since catching lawbreakers (usually involving intense physical exertion) is the core "business" of being a police officer, how exactly is that not consistent with "business necessity?"

Criminals aren't chivalrous – they don't let up when being chased by a female officer (or an overweight male); by definition, they are fleeing to escape capture. So why would the federal government want to give them an advantage by mandating officers be on the force who aren't physically up to snuff? Why would we ever want standards implemented that not only help the bad guys, but devalue the abilities of all police officers – especially women, who are more than capable of passing the same tests as their male counterparts. (More than seven of 10 female cadets pass the physical requirements).

And let's be honest. If anything, the existing requirements are far too lenient: Three chances to vertically jump a whopping 14 inches (fat people jump higher than that when the pizza guy arrives); a 300-meter run in 77 seconds (a feat easily accomplished by your average sixth-grader); a 1.5-mile run in 18 minutes (you could catch a quick nap and still make it); and 13 pushups with no time limit.

Are these requirements discriminatory? Absolutely! And they should be; the whole point is to weed out those who would not be able to perform on the job. Are we supposed to hire female lifeguards who can't swim? Bus drivers with failing eyesight? Out-of-shape combat pilots who can't sustain G-forces? Where does it end?

The police requirements are meant to simulate real-life, on-the-job situations that officers will – not may, but will – encounter: Foot pursuit, CPR, climbing stairs, lifting and pushing various things.

Yet, the Justice Department somehow doesn't see it that way, stating that it "is deeply committed to eliminating artificial barriers that keep qualified women out of public safety work." If cops never encountered any of the above situations, then the requirements would indeed be "artificial barriers."

But they do. And therefore the requirements must not only stay, but be strengthened.

If the requirements are dumbed down, and the inevitable negative consequences occur, will Holder or President Obama take responsibility? And would it even matter to victims and their families if they did?

"We're sorry that the rapist got away to strike again because our officers weren't able to run a few hundred yards without wheezing; it's a shame the drug dealer killed your young child because he was able to elude out-of-shape cops time and again; too bad those victims died in the fire because the police couldn't mount the steps quickly."

Not much solace there.

Except, of course, to a smug administration, content with a warped belief that its social engineering is changing America for the better. Here's a news flash, Mr. President: Such assaults on common sense and work ethic don't work, and only sow the seeds of resentment across all classes and all genders.

Hillary Clinton didn't earn bonus votes because she was female. In the same way, if an applicant – for any job – can't meet the requirements, the answer is to move on to something else, or work harder until you can pass the tests. Instilling a sense of misguided entitlement solely because of gender (the true "artificial barrier") not only isn't rewarding, but extremely dangerous.

So hats off to the Pennsylvania State Police for not caving, unlike their Corpus Christi, Texas, counterparts. That department, upon having after a similar suit filed against them, agreed to eliminate its physical fitness test, dole out $700,000 in compensation to women who had failed the test, and give priority hiring and retroactive seniority and benefits to females who didn't pass the test.

And that is downright criminal.

Let's hope the courts have the stamina to run rings around Obama's frivolous lawsuit in Pennsylvania and push it to where it belongs: In the trash.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at CF@FFZMedia.com.

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