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Fit for duty

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PUSH-UP: Grant County Sheriff’s Department candidates do push-ups on the track at Indiana Wesleyan University on Saturday. Applicants must do 25 in order to pass the physical test.
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ALMOST: An applicant comes close to passing the vertical jump. The duck-taped bar is the mark to hit.
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PHYSICAL TEST: Applicants get directions from Sheriff Reggie Nevels before the1.5 mile run at the Indiana Wesleyan University track.

by Ethan Clewell - eclewell@chronicle-tribune.com

Jeff Wallace has always wanted to work in law enforcement. This isn’t as common as it used to be.

The number of applicants interested in working at the Grant County Sheriff’s Department is on a downward trend, a similar issue seen across the country. 

On Saturday, nearly half of the 20-plus candidates who came out to the track at Indiana Wesleyan University to take the physical test didn’t pass.

A few no-shows cut the number of applicants down to 17. The applicants left had to do a 16-inch vertical jump, 29 sit-ups in a minute, 300 meter run in 71 seconds, 25 push-ups and a 1.5 mile run in 16 minutes and 28 seconds.

Wallace failed in February, but this time he cruised through the physical test. He finished with the best time for the 1.5 mile run, but that’s not the part of the test process he is worried about. Wallace says he has been reading and working on doing better on the personality test.

The physical test is just one part of a long process to get on the merit list, the list of applicants eligible for hire.

The process includes a written exam, a personality test, a drug test and a background check.

Saturday’s physical test mirrored the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy’s exit test requirements.

In order to enroll at the academy, applicants must pass an entrance test which has lower standards.

Some applicants who failed the Grant County test could have made it into the academy. One applicant was just short of the vertical jump. Another was just two sit-ups short of passing. Both exceeded the state’s entrance test requirements. 

Nonetheless, Beaty stands by the department’s higher standards. Beaty says they don’t want to send anyone to the academy and invest three months into them if they are worried about the hire passing the physical test. He said using the tougher exit test standard is a common practice across law enforcement agencies.

“We want to send them down there already at exit standard, so they can concentrate on learning in the academy,” Capt. Ed Beaty said.

But the high standards aren’t helping the department’s hiring flow, with numbers of applicants still dwindling. 

“When I was on the merit list, there were 60 people on that list that the sheriff can pick from to hire,” Beaty said. “Now, I’d be happy if I get 10.”