For the first time in 16 years, the F.B.I. is checking to make sure all its agents stay in some semblance of shape. While all agents are required to go through a fairly vigorous fitness exam when they first join the bureau, the New York Times reports that the F.B.I. ended their once-mandatory annual checkups around the time of 9/11, when they shifted their focus to terrorism and cyber security, i.e. stuff that mostly involved staring at a computer screen.
But the days of kicking back and taking it easy are over. In a October 2014 memo unearthed by the Times yesterday, F.B.I. Director James B. Comey informed the staff that he's newly reinvested in making sure everyone has the "ability to run, fight and shoot, no matter what job you hold," suggesting that these things are in the best interest of "the lives of your colleagues and those you protect." Furthermore:
I want you to look like the squared-away object of that reverence. I want the American people to be able to take one glance at you and think, 'THERE is a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
So what does this entail, exactly?
... male agents ages 30 to 39 must perform 24 push-ups without stopping and 35 situps in a minute. They have to sprint 300 meters in less than a minute and run a mile and a half in 12 minutes and 53 seconds.
The most challenging part of the test, agents said, is that they get only a five-minute break between exercises. Men are typically better at the push-ups than situps, but it is the reverse for women. Everyone struggles with the sprint.
There is no weight limit, per se, and the requirements ease up as you hit your forties and fifties. (Women in their thirties are required to do 11 pushups and 25 situps, while running 300 meters in 71 seconds and 1.5 miles in 15:56.) And the barrier for entry into the organization is much higher: To make a passing score as a new recruit, men have to ideally perform a combined 40 pushups, do 43 situps in a minute, and run a mile and a half in 11 minutes and 34 seconds. So if you're ever in a mass shooting or hostage situation or other domestic calamity, run toward the youngest-looking FBI agent.
If you'd like to watch agents train for this new program in person, head to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where the bureau's own Jennifer Schick, who describes the test as "not really that hard," presides over optional public workouts that should be maybe be mandatory:
To help them prepare, the F.B.I. is offering training sessions like one on the National Mall at sunrise on Friday, when Ms. Schick stood over a dozen agents who did push-ups until their bodies collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. They did lunges to build leg strength and ran wind sprints. "Unfortunately, some people told me they are embarrassed to come and show other people how out of shape they are, and that's a shame because they are the ones who really need it," Ms. Schick said.
I feel safer already.
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