The city of Farmington's proposed 2014 budget has $10,000 earmarked for exercise equipment at the police department. Is it worth it? Police chief Brian Lindquist says, "Absolutely."
The Farmington Police Department has its own fitness room. It has a separate entrance, accessible only to city employees who have a key. It has another entrance into the police department, which is not accessible to anyone but FPD staff.
It's not a big room. There is just enough space for seven or eight pieces of equipment -- a treadmill, elliptical, and a few multi-purpose pieces.
City of Farmington human resources director Brenda Wendlandt says it's a good expenditure, too.
"Statistics show that for every dollar an organization spends on wellness, they see about a $3 return in higher productivity and health care premiums," Wendlandt said. "That's not even considering the other benefits. For workman's comp, there's less chance of them being hurt, but if they are hurt, the healthier they are, the quicker they're able to recover and get back to work."
FPD's fitness room has been in place since the building opened more than a decade ago. Former police chief Dan Siebenaler knew the benefits of exercise, Lindquist said, and made it a priority in the planning stages.
Many of the officers use the fitness room on a regular basis. The easy access allows them to come in a little early or stay a little late to get in some exercise. Others take short breaks and do light workouts, and some use it over their lunch breaks.
It's time well spent in Lindquist's opinion.
"This can be a physically demanding job, but not every minute you're at work. A lot of times you have to go from one extreme to another in a minute or less. When a call comes in, you never know what you're going to encounter," he said.
Being physically fit comes in handy for officers when they have to break up fights or pursue suspects on foot. Officers face all kinds of physical altercations, Lindquist said. If they're used to being sedate and riding in a squad car, they're less likely to be able to meet those challenges.
And they're also more susceptible to serious health problems like cardiac arrest or stroke.
"We're not designed to be Superman, but we do have to perform a service and part of that service is being able to maintain some level of physical fitness. If the job calls on you and your body can't respond, you're not able to perform that service," Lindquist said.
The fitness room is also open to city employees, and several of them take advantage of it, Wendlandt said. Council members, too, have utilized the room.
"The fitness room at the PD has been a big advantage because if they want to go work out after work, it's easy, it's cost effective, and realistically, it's cost effective for any organization that encourages its employees to get healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle," she said.
Wendlandt believes there is a financial benefit to having the fitness room available to employees, especially the police officers. Making expenditures to replace workout equipment may seem frivolous to some taxpayers, but she thinks it's worth the cost.
"We understand we're spending taxpayer dollars, but if your employees are healthy and at work, there's an advantage to that. If they're not healthy and not at work, there's lost productivity. You've got to balance that out. Whatever we do to encourage them to be healthy, in the long run, is going to save everybody's dollars," she said.