Last week six Sheaf staff members tried out the Police Officer Physical Ability/Aptitude Test at the Physical Activity Complex on campus. The results weren’t exactly pretty, complete with puking and a rolled ankle.
The POPAT is designed to simulate a fight, a chase and carrying someone to safety, which must be completed in four minutes and 45 seconds in order for police applicants to pass. It begins with a cardio section that includes running up and down stairs, jumping over obstacles and running around pylons.
Next is pushing and pulling 80 pounds, followed by hopping back and forth over a high bar, meant to represent jumping over fences. Lastly, applicants must pick up and carry a 100 pound bag while walking.
The Human Performance Centre at the College of Kinesiology is the official location for testing applicants of the Saskatoon Police Service. Jason Weber, the coordinator of the HPC, took us through the test, explaining each of the components and coaching us as we tried the course.
“There needs to be a good mix of endurance and strength, it doesn’t necessarily help someone who can bench-press the world. It’s more a mixture of endurance than actual strength,” Weber said.
After trying out the course for practice and more than a few nervous pee breaks, we were ready to get started.
Staff writer Emily Klatt went first and finished the cardio portion after 3:18. Although that was it for her, she came off the course with confidence — in her career of choice.
“I am very tired; that was hard. I am going to stick to being a journalist,” she said.
Next went opinions editor Zach Tennent. Zach gave it his all and finished the entire test in 4:46, amid cheers of encouragement from the rest of us.
The excitement disappeared quickly however, as Emily and Zach went outside to get some air. Sports editor Austin Arvay went to check on them and confirmed that yes, they were both puking.
Despite this, Zach had positive thoughts on the experience.
“I’m more glad that I did it and I’m done it, than if I hadn’t done it,” he said.
Up next was Keighlagh Donovan, news editor. Keighlagh attacked the cardio portion with lots of energy and worked her way through the rest of the test until she had to stop during the fence portion: one more staff member down, this time with a rolled ankle.
So close to finishing the whole thing, Keighlagh’s time was 5:22. She commented on the experience while laying with her foot elevated on ice.
“That was actually so much harder than you would expect, looking at it. It’s actually so tough, just getting through the first three rounds you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m already so out of breath.’ And then I rolled my ankle.”
Three staff members down — literally — three to go. The results thus far made things a little intimidating for the rest of us, but we still wanted to try it out.
Layout manager Stephanie Mah went next and finished with a time of 5:26. No vomiting or injuries for her, although Steph actually did predict earlier that two of the six staff members would end up puking. Her thoughts after were positive overall.
“Considering that I don’t lift weights, I’m really proud of myself for finishing it and not quitting. I think if you were to train for it, it wouldn’t be so bad,” she said.
Austin was next and finished with the fastest time: 3:58. While he was running, Steph turned to me and said: “I’m surprised after all those Mac’s hot dogs he’s doing so well.” We were all impressed however, and Austin was happy with his results.
“Well, I’m exhausted, but I finished. I didn’t puke, but I’m just glad I finished and completed my goal. But I’m really tired,” he said.
After watching everyone else struggle though, I went last. I finished the test with a time of 5:19, also very thankful that I didn’t puke and happy to have had the experience.
Weber went easy on us however, overlooking minor infractions that would normally result in automatic failure. The HPC on campus tests approximately 250 Saskatoon City Police applicants per year, and the POPAT is definitely a physically challenging test.
“It’s designed so that anyone can pass it. Whether you get 4:45 or 3:45, it’s a good estimate of where you’re at in terms of physical fitness,” Weber said.
A good estimate of physical fitness indeed. While it may not have been a particularly pretty morning for the Sheaf staff, it was definitely an interesting experience. I think it’s safe to say that none of us will be considering police work anytime soon.
Naomi Zurevinski / Editor-in-Chief
Photos: Kayle Neis