Police training college drops physical competence test for admission

If you want to join the New Zealand police, soon you will only have to pass one fitness test to get into police training college.

The physical competency test (PCT) - essentially an obstacle course - was ditched this month.

Before that, applicants had to pass the physical competency test, and a physical appraisal test (PAT).

The PCT involves scrambling over a 1.8m wall and a 2.2m fence, jumping through a window space, pushing a trailer, walking a balance beam and diving under a hurdle, all within a time frame. The PAT involves running, jumping and push-ups.

But the physical competency test has not completely gone.

"It's still in once you get into the college," Superintendent Melanie Aitken told Checkpoint.

She said the physical appraisal test is enough to show candidates are capable to enter police training and complete the physical competency test.

"In essence, the PAT - the physical appraisal test - is just as good a test of a person's level of fitness as the PCT," Ms Aitken said.

From 19 January to 1 October this year, 925 applicants for police training went through the PCT. Of those, 873 passed and 52 failed.
Dropping the competency test is not lowering the bar to entry, Ms Aitken said.

"Our recruits cannot leave college without having passed the PCT. But having it focused on at the college is in a really controlled environment.

"So if we're thinking about an individual's safety in performing those tasks - they've got the time, they've got the ability to put into training and the appropriate manner, at the college to be able to pass the PCT where we can test them there."

The PCT was introduced in 1982. Serving officers up to Commissioned Officer rank must sit the test every two years.

"We certainly haven't taken away anybody's motivation. Individuals have to pass the PAT which in itself is proof of motivation to get into college," Ms Aitken said.

"That in itself is no mean feat to be able to pass. So we're very confident that this is not about lowering standards, but ensuring that we have the right people tested in a controlled environment and leaving the college they have to pass the PCT."

She said police trainers are mindful of how police work is changing, with new technology.

"The test we currently have is deemed gold standard internationally. But we're also mindful that the last review on testing was in 2011.

"So we will be looking at reviewing in the coming year the current PCT as it stands, and is fit for purpose, or what needs to change to be ensuring that our people when they're out there policing are in the best physical shape they can be to respond to the needs of the community."

A file image of a New Zealand Police officer at a public gathering. Source: 1 NEWS