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A test of endurance

Lolita Harper

HILLSIDE DISTRICT -- She was hunched over, with her hands on her

knees, trying to catch her breath in the 80-degree weather.

Burbank police recruit Mary Eltz had just successfully completed the


department’s physical agility test, and it was hard to tell if she was

deliriously happy or stillsuffering from a lack of oxygen.

“Thank God I’ll never have to do that again,” Eltz said.

Eltz, 28, completed the course in 111 seconds, beating the times of


many of her male counterparts.

She was one of 33 people who took the test in June. Six were lateral

recruits from other departments, and four were women. Unlike Eltz, nine

people failed to complete the test in under two minutes, a total of 120


The course was designed to simulate an actual police pursuit and weed

out those who are not fit enough to perform the physical requirements of

the job, said Burbank Police Det. Rich Bison.


“If you can’t handle this, you can’t handle the job,” Bison said.

The physical agility test is the second step in the application

process, following a written test and preceding an oral interview,

background check and physical and mental examinations. More than 50

people signed up for the written test, said Burbank Police Det. Frank

Turner. The number of eligible recruits has been cut in half after only

the second step in the process.

“We’ll be lucky to fill the four vacancies that we have,” Turner said.


“There aren’t that many people who want to work in law enforcement


Burbank Police Chief Tom Hoefel said the department is getting more

creative in its recruitment efforts. A slide will soon be running at the

AMC Theatres advertising a career in law enforcement with the Burbank

Police, he said.

Personal recruiting efforts also don’t hurt, he said.

“It is not unusual for me, when I’m in a restaurant, to ask the waiter

if he’s ever considered a career in law enforcement,” Hoefel said.


Recruits must finish the following in the Burbank Police Department

physical agility test course in two minutes, or less, to pass.

1. Scale a 6-foot-tall wall.

2. Cross a 10-foot-long balance beam.

3. Run up and down a flight of stairs.

4. Jump across a ditch, then back across.

5. Run through uneven railroad tracks.

6. Crawl under a bar.

7. Drag a 165-pound dummy.

8. Hurdle a small wall.

9. Sprint 25 yards.

10. Apply 70 pounds of pressure with each hand to simulate applying