WQAD reporter takes FBI physical fitness test

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News 8’s Shelby Kluver made the trip to Springfield, Illinois to see if she has what it takes to become a law enforcement official.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Halfway through the mile and a half run, I thought it would be nice to tap out.

It took everything in me to keep going as I ran past a group of FBI instructors (with a shout, “9:36, 9:37, you have two more laps to go!”) on a windy Tuesday morning.

But it’s not easy to become an FBI agent.

On May 24, the FBI office in Springfield, Illinois invited reporters from across the state to participate in a media day, allowing reporters to find out exactly what it takes to become an FBI agent. .

To complete the event, journalists had to attempt one minute of sit-ups, a 300-meter sprint, as many push-ups as possible, and a one-and-a-half-mile run.

To my dismay, only two journalists had the courage to appear at our trial, leaving no place to hide.

We started with sit-ups. In a typical test, women would need to hit at least 36 crunches to pass. Under the watchful eyes of the local agents, I was able to perform 26 (mostly) proper sit-ups.

Then came the 300-meter sprint, which I finished in 1:03 – a second faster than the minimum time for FBI agents. It was a sweet victory and the only event in which I qualified technically.

But reality fell apart for the push-ups (only two were completed) and the mile-and-a-half run (which ended three minutes longer than the maximum time allowed).

However, I am not the first person to take the exam.

“Our general percentages, from when someone starts the app to people going to Quantico, are less than 2% or 3% of people passing. And (the fitness test) is one of areas that yeah, we’re losing a lot of people,” said Special Agent Harvey Pettry, the nominations coordinator for FBI Springfield.

When recruiting, he looks for people who have a desire to serve, who are well-educated and physically capable of the demands of the position.

“If you take any of these individual events on their own, it’s not too difficult. But when you add all four events together, and you do it in that order, it’s extremely physically challenging,” said Pettry said.

And it’s not just the FBI where the physical test weeds people out. The same requirements are used for those wishing to join local law enforcement, such as the Moline Police Department.

“We’re probably finding that about 20% of people aren’t ready to take the fitness exam,” Chief Darren Gault said. “The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police did a survey of about 240 agencies statewide and they saw an elimination rate of over 40-50% in the testing process.”

This is just one more obstacle for an industry that is already struggling to recruit new employees.

Since 2020, Moline Police have seen a 66% increase in departures, including retirements and resignations, from the department.

“Previously, over the past 15 years, the department was losing an average of about five officers a year. Last year, we lost 15,” Gault said.

He also noticed a 93% decrease in the number of candidates showing up for the physical test. A far cry from the hay days of the 90s, when more than 200 people attended the physical fitness exam, Moline had only 15 people for their last round.

“And I just hired five people on May 4, so it’s hard to get enough good quality candidates to hire when the roster or the pool is very small,” Gault said.

He believes the best way to combat the recruitment cycle is to educate and pursue partnerships with local universities, faith-based institutions and community organizations.

“These are great opportunities to serve your community while earning a good living and we really need to get that message across,” Gault said.

However, nothing is clearer than this: after finishing with -5 points (well below the nine points needed to pass), I am not going to quit my job anytime soon.

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