Individuals applying for jobs as corrections officers throughout New York City will be expected to meet stricter health and fitness guidelines established by correction commissioner Joseph Ponte. It is an initiative that Ponte has made a priority for his department since he became aware that too many of his officers were overweight and consequently in poor physical health.
One seasoned officer noted to reporters that some of the new recruits that come into the department after being appointed “can barely fit into chairs” and that the new stricter fitness testing standards that will make qualifying for the job more challenging are long overdue.
There has also been an unsettling increase in the level of violence among inmates in the city correctional facilities which has also prompted Ponte’s department to look into the possibility of implementing an age limit of 35 years for new recruits – the same age limit that has long been in place for recruits in the NYPD.
While Ponte is adamant about implementing the fitness testing changes, it is ultimately up to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to approve any changes. According to a spokesperson for the department, the proposed changes are being reviewed but no implementation is expected any time soon.
Representatives from the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, the local correctional officer’s union, say that they agree that changes to the physical examination for new recruits do indeed need to be made and that the union is in favor of implementing stricter and more challenging physical requirements for those interested in becoming COs.
One of the main reasons for the need for healthier and more capable officers in the city jails is that the job is one of the most stressful and dangerous occupations in America and in order to truly perform that job at the level that it needs to be performed, particularly with the rise in inmate violence, correctional officers have to be physically prepared to deal with the unexpected.