Chief Who Took Stand on Obesity Ends up Getting Trimmed
> 11/2/2006 9:28:19 AM

The police chief of a Florida community was forced to resign after he sent an email to his 80-person force asking his officers to take stock of their weight and get in shape. His email's subject line read: "Are You a Jelly Belly?" but offered no further name calling or criticism. Instead former Chief Paul Goward laid out ten reasons that police officers should be in good shape. The AP quoted from his original, supposedly offensive, email:

"Take a good look at yourself," he wrote. "If you are unfit, do yourself and everyone else a favor. See a professional about a proper diet and a fitness training program, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake and start thinking self-pride, confidence and respectability. And stop making excuses for delaying what you know you should have been doing years ago. We didn't hire you unfit and we don't want you working unfit. Don't mean to offend, this is just straight talk. I owe it to you."

Let's just say, if we were in charge of Winter Haven, FL, Chief Goward would be receiving a raise, and not his walking papers. If there were morale issues that proceeded this email, as the AP suggests there may have been, then that's something that should have been delt with. But as it appears, this was a police chief who not only expressed his concern for the health of his officers, but gave concrete ideas and suggestions as well as offered support for those interested in getting in shape. Goward also did not demand that officers lose weight, but instead offered incentives to those who did. Beyond that, Goward had been working on a comprehensive plan that would have helped officers that chose to use it.

This is a diconcerning situation because no matter what happened, or what the circumstances were before Chief Goward's resignation, the news story is that an email that criticized out of shape officers is what precipitated this event. That sends a message that these officers should be coddled and not forced to deal with their weight issues. As Goward pointed out, none of these officers were unfit when they were hired--they had to pass a physical exam to even get the job--so why should it be acceptable for them to not be able to pass the same physical exam years later? These are public servants, charged with keeping the peace, physical fitness is integral to their job. Staying in shape benefits themselves, it benefits those who they serve, and it benefits tax payers whose money will go to paying their health benefits. Goward's email was not unreasonable and his firing sends the wrong message about how obesity should be handled in this country. Of course, out of shape officers shouldn't be singled out for embarassment, but the complacency that resides at many levels of our society toward the issue of physical fitness is not acceptable either.


Don't put fat guys in quotation marks. There's no accusations going on. We're talking about fat officers. People in the military have had to do worse things to their bodies and they are still held by a annual PT test. If you take care of your body in the first place your far less liable to get blown disks, bad hips, or even lower the extent of injuries because your body is more conditioned. I think Chief Goward had a good point, and it's a shame that he resigned the force.
Posted by: Drug Detox 11/3/2006 1:13:56 AM

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