By Errol Castens/Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
OXFORD – Law enforcement folks don’t just fight crime; they fight stereotypes.
One way they fight Hollywood’s reliance on big-bellied sheriffs and donut-chasing police is the “Iron Cop” competition that’s just concluded among officers from several agencies in Lafayette County.
“When new administrations take over departments, they usually have some new priorities they want to implement,” said Oxford Police Investigator Jeff McCutchen. “This was really Chief Martin’s idea, trying to get our guys in better shape and more aware of their physical fitness.”
“It makes working out fun,” said Mike Martin, whose department opens the quarterly events to other agencies. “It gives you something to train for, something to look forward to doing.”
In February, competitors see how many times over a two-minute period they can bench press their weight, then repeat with two minutes of pull-ups and two minutes of dead lifting their weight.
The spring event is held at the Buddy East Training Facility’s shooting ranges and shoot house. It begins with a 300-yard run to get the adrenaline flowing, a pistol target series, another 100-yard run to another set of targets to be dispatched by rifle, another 100-yard run to two hidden targets in the shoot house and finishing with a rescue simulation by dragging a 175-pound dummy out of the house.
“It’s pretty intense,” Martin said.
The summer event is a mini-triathlon with about a mile of swimming, an 11.7-mile bike ride and a 3.2-mile run, and this weekend the series ended with a reprise of the ride and run segments.
While the four events drew as many as 15 competitors each, most of the crowd was different every time. Three competitors – Martin, Paul Rowlett from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Lafayette County Deputy Sheriff and Constable Jack Theobald – performed all four events.
“We would have a lot more … but the second event timed out real close to the Lawfit Competition,” Martin said, referring to a national law enforcement physical competition in which OPD placed second last spring. “The coach, Jeff McCutchen, thought doing both might risk injury to someone, so he pulled them out of the range event.”
Theobald, who won three of four events to secure the 2012 Iron Cop title, said he jumped at the opportunity to be involved.
“I work a lot of hours, and it’s my stress reliever to get into the gym,” he said. “I like competition, and I like working out, so I just combined them. The people of this county rely on you to serve and protect them, and being in shape comes with the job.”