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Slimmer police presence: Bridgeport officers get leaner through fitness program

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, February 8, 2014

Forget the donut jokes.

Bridgeport police officer Berl Bridwell has lost more than 120 pounds in the past 18 months.

A combination of workout apps on his smart phone and a daily workout regimen at the local gym has helped the veteran officer achieve a higher level of fitness for his job.

Fot for Duty

FIT FOR DUTY – Bridgeport Police Department honored Edge Fitness with a Community Partnership Award last week. From left are Officer Berl Bridwell, Heidi Carter, Asst. Chief Steve Stanford, Edge owners Jonathan and Michelle Cortez and Chief Randy Singleton. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Bridwell, 52, works out almost every day. And he’s only one example – the entire department has made health and well-being a crucial part of the job requirements.

For the last eight years, Edge Fitness in Bridgeport has partnered with the Bridgeport Police Department to help ensure officers are physically fit for duty.

MAN UP – Bridgeport Asst. Police Chief Steve Stanford works out at Edge Fitness regularly along with the rest of his officers. The police department runs a fitness program allowing officers to work out every time they are on duty. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It’s real easy to get complacent and lethargic, riding around in a patrol car,” Bridwell said. “It’s a benefit to be able to work out here.”

Wednesday morning, Police Chief Randy Singleton honored the owners of Edge with a Community Partnership Award.

“What you do for us is wonderful,” Singleton said. “You allow all our officers to work out here. You are our partner in a physical fitness program. As a whole, if you look at our officers, they are physically fit. They work out here every day. We allow our officers to work out while they are on duty.

“It’s such a huge benefit to the community,” he said. “Rest assured, our guys are better able to handle things that come up because of their level of fitness. It comes into play all the time.

“This is a small token of our appreciation,” he said. “From the bottom of our hearts, ‘Thank you.'”

Jonathan and Michelle Cortez are the owners of Edge Fitness.

“It keeps us involved with the community, and it gives our other customers a warm and fuzzy feeling to know officers are in and out all the time. This is a 24-hour facility. Our members come and go at all times.”

“It’s a mutual partnership,” said trainer Heidi Carter.

“They are on duty 12 hours a day,” Singleton said. “They can go from a sedentary environment to sheer terror in a minute. We feel it’s so important when our officers get called that they are physically fit. The worst thing in the world is for an officer to get called to a scene and be unable to help, physically.”

Heart health care is also important for police officers.

“From a cardiovascular standpoint, cops are notorious for having heart attacks while on duty,” Singleton added. “We want to prevent those types of things in our department.”

Every three months the officers are brought together for a group physical assessment at the gym.

“Our officers don’t have to do this, and every officer is at their own level of fitness,” Singleton said. “But it is something we encourage, and we have 100 percent involvement.”

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