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August 28, 2014

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LAW ENFORCEMENT:

Think you could pass the Metro Police fitness exam? Take a look

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Steve Marcus

Metro Police recruit candidate sags to the ground after failing to do the required 24 push-ups during physical fitness testing at Cimarron-Memorial High School Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013.

Metro Police Recruit Fitness Testing

Metro Police recruit candidate Kristina Diamond, 33, and another candidate encourage Mike Donnelly, center, to complete his one mile run during  physical fitness testing at Cimarron-Memorial High School Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. Launch slideshow »

It’s 8 a.m. Thursday, and the temperature is rising outside Cimarron-Memorial High School, where 117 prospective police officers stand in line.

Among them is former Nellis airman and soon-to-be father Steven Kinsland. The 25-year-old appears relaxed, even confident, but the fitness exam he's preparing to take isn’t anything to shrug off. If he passes, he's one step closer to becoming a Metro Police officer, the job he hopes to secure to support his growing family.

His wife, who already has a 5-year-old daughter, is expecting the couple’s first child later this month.

“Do I re-enlist and chance going to England or Japan?” Kinsland said, explaining his thought process that led to leaving an active-duty military position. “Or do I get out and stay here and allow us to grow as a family?”

Kinsland is one of seven police recruit candidates on Sgt. Jon Clark’s team. They’ll later cheer each other on, sweat profusely and crack a few smiles, but for now, they’re listening intently to Recruitment Officer Fred Castle. It’s his rules or bust.

“Do not listen to any directions that do not come from me, your graders or Sgt. Wilde ...”

“Do not count for anyone, including yourself. The grader will tell you to stop …”

“Do not stop unless he or she tells you to …”

The physical fitness exam could be considered step four in the process of becoming a Metro officer. The men and women at Cimarron-Memorial already passed an application screening, preliminary background questionnaire and written exam, said Karen Krauss, Metro’s human resources manager.

After the fitness exam, the next steps are to attend an informational seminar, take an oral exam and then enter into the full background-checking process, Krauss said.

Then the real waiting game begins. The candidates — ranked by their scores on the written and oral exams — will be selected in order to attend a Metro Police Academy.

The department plans to hold an academy in February and possibly another in March, depending on finances, Krauss said.

Not everyone passes the fitness exam. It includes five tests, all of which are pass or fail: a “bend, twist and touch” agility test, 100-yard dash in 19 seconds, 24 pushups, 32 sit-ups in one minute, and a mile-long run in 10 minutes, 49 seconds or less. Failing one test means automatic elimination, and all of the tests must be completed in the same session.

More than 1,200 candidates were expected to attend a dozen fitness test sessions offered this week and next, Krauss said.

“What we look for is somebody who is dedicated,” Castle said.

Twin brothers Chris and Sean Pascoe, 21, and Katy Koehne, 22, arguably fit that bill. For three years, they have served as volunteer patrol service representatives for Metro, meaning they can respond to calls about nonviolent incidents.

Now they’re rooting for each other to pass the fitness test so they can move on together to the police academy. Being outnumbered by men doesn’t daunt Koehne.

“I’ve always been competitive,” she said. “If you can accomplish it, that’s awesome.”

Her legs trembled a little and she paused twice during the arm-strength challenge — 24 pushups without letting knees touch the ground — but she passed and immediately started cheering for the next woman in Clark’s group. The official temperature in Las Vegas, as measured at McCarran International Airport, ranged from 90 to 95 degrees during the exam.

“I knew I was going to make it one way or another,” Koehne said.

As for the Pascoe brothers, they had a pressure of their own: the fear of one twin passing and one failing.

Dressed in a white T-shirt, gray athletic shorts, and yellow and gray Nikes, Chris Pascoe swayed nervously as his brother grunted through 32 sit-ups in one minute.

“Push it, Sean, push it!” Chris Pascoe screamed.

Sean Pascoe passed with time to spare. Worry averted.

Candidates in other groups weren’t so lucky.

Of the 117 candidates participating in this session, 91 passed — a 78 percent success rate. Castle admits he hates seeing anyone face elimination.

“What I tell them is it’s not a failure — it’s a start,” he said.

All seven candidates in Clarke’s group passed, including the Pascoe twins. The two ran in stride with each other until the last bend, when Sean Pascoe pulled ahead during a sprint and beat his brother by a step.

The fitness test had ended. Their next step would be less taxing: an informational session later in the afternoon.

“Thank God,” Chris Pascoe said.

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