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Only four of the country's top eight police officers have passed a new fitness test.
While hundreds of unfit cops have been pulled from frontline duties, the same rule has not been applied to their bosses.
From March 1, all constables, sergeants and senior sergeants have been required to hold a current physical competency test (PCT) certificate in order to be operationally deployed.
But the New Zealand Herald has learned that of the eight sworn officers in the national police executive, only four hold a current certificate.
And out in the districts, just four of 11 commanding officers have passed the PCT recently.
It is not a requirement for "commissioned officers", including Commissioner Peter Marshall, deputy and assistant commissioners and district commanders, to hold a PCT.
But some chose to gain the certificate as part of their leadership duties.
A senior officer said that all sworn officers should have to pass the test, and it was "not a good look" for officers with management duties to be exempt.
He said that although they were in managerial positions, there was always a chance they would need to step in and assist in dealing with offenders and at incidents - so should have their fitness tested to ensure they were up to the job.
Police national headquarters would not say which of the executive and district commanders did not have current certificates.
But the Herald can reveal Canterbury district commander Superintendent Gary Knowles recently failed the test.
"Superintendent Knowles recently decided to sit the PCT test to show his support for constabulary staff who were in the process of attaining their PCT," said Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush.
"Whilst completing the PCT, Superintendent Knowles injured himself badly. He only missed out on attaining his PCT by a few seconds.
"However, he is not able to attempt it again for several weeks, but is committed to attaining it."
Mr Bush pointed out that while it wasn't a requirement for Commissioner Marshall to do so, he recently obtained his PCT, as did Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls and Maori, Pacific and ethnic services general manager Wally Haumaha.
He said that as of last Friday, 96.9 per cent of constabulary staff had a current PCT certificate, compared with 86.4 per cent in May last year.
"The New Zealand Police are one of very few police jurisdictions in the world that has a physical standard that is maintained throughout an officer's career," Mr Bush said.
If the Commissioner can do it:
Last month police Commissioner Peter Marshall, 59, completed his PCT in two minutes and 56 seconds - 30 seconds under the time limit for his age and gender.
"I want to be able to look frontline staff in the eye and tell them that if I can get a PCT at nearly 60, then it's not beyond the realms of possibility for others who are comparatively fit," Mr Marshall said.
"It certainly wasn't easy to attain ... but I intend to continue being operationally deployed, just as I have in the past ... I felt it was the right thing to do as the leader of this organisation."
What is the PCT?
The PCT involves completing a 400 metre course of tasks in this order:
pushing a car trailer 10 metres
- carrying a car wheel assembly 10 metres
- running 200 metres
- walking a five metre right-angle beam, a metre off the ground
- jumping a 1.8 metre long jump
- running around cones and under and over hurdles for 30 metres
- climbing through a one-metre high window
- climbing over a solid 1.8 metre high wall
- dragging a body 7.5 metres
- climbing a 2.2 metre-high wire fence.
Competition times for the PCT course vary according to the officer's age and gender.
- Anna Leask of the NZ Herald