How Detroit’s Police Department Lost Almost 1,000 Pounds

An innovative health program makes sure the city's men and women in blue are healthy and happy for a safer community.

detroitpoliceVia, Detroit Medical CenterForget about the stereotypical image of a doughnut-eating cop; in the Motor City it has become totally outdated, thanks to the 61-Day Challenge, a partnership between the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) and the Detroit Police Department (DPD).

James E. Craig, Chief of Police for the Detroit Police Department, who believes physically fit officers are better equipped to perform their duties and keep their communities safe, implemented the program—with cadets given health and fitness benchmarks that they must reach and maintain—to keep the force held to high standards. In its second year, the campaign focuses on “fitness, nutrition, health education, and commitment to living a healthier life.”

Every year, participants challenge each other to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and increase their overall health. The program provides health screenings and educational sessions that have helped hundreds of police officers drop thousands of pounds. The program doubles as a way to raise awareness to obesity while also giving police officers a chance to better serve and protect their community. (In Michigan alone, an estimated 30.7 percent of adults were classified as obese, and another 34.9 percent were classified as overweight.) Raising awareness to the problem and providing a solution, Detroit Medical Center (DMC) has been teaming up with the Detroit Police Department (DPD) to get law enforcement fit and healthy for the job since 2016.

“Over the years, this program has delivered stellar results!” says Chief Craig, who notes that, along with officers losing thousands of pounds, they’ve also been able to forgo medications for conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. (Don’t miss these incredible weight-loss transformations.) Some of the participants were even able to find serious health-related issues thanks to the complimentary screenings provided by DMC.

It’s not just physical

In addition to physical health, the program also addresses mental health. “Officers need to have a clear mind in order to perform at the highest level and physical fitness is a great way to alleviate the stresses that come with the job. This profession produces an extreme amount of stress and if the officers don’t use a positive refuge like exercise, it is easy for them to turn to reckless habits as coping mechanisms,” says Chief Craig.

The challenge has raised officer morale, too. “When officer morale is high, productivity increases. The DMC challenge and the pledge DPD takes not only makes law enforcement more physically capable to protect and serve, but also works to improve their mental state of health,” says Chief Craig. As a result, the community is stronger as a whole.

Chief Craig says he “borrowed” the idea from his good friend, Reginald Eadie, MD, regional COO at Detroit Medical Center and author of the program. “His approach to a community focused health and wellness program inspired me to take it back to my department and from there, the partnership was born.”

As part of the partnership, Craig continues, “The DMC has generously provided physicians to speak to our officers and staff about various health conditions. Their team of community outreach nurses have provided several health screenings to our officers at both our headquarters and precincts.”

DMC 61 Day Challenge creator, Dr. Eadie, explains, “The DMC’s 61 Day Challenge was created to serve as a resource for individuals and groups, like the Detroit Police Department, who are looking for guidance in support of their wellness activities. Partnering with the Detroit Police Department fulfills our mission of helping people live happier and healthier lives. It’s our honor to support the men and women who protect our communities.”

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Alexa Erickson
Alexa Erickson is a lifestyle and news writer currently working with Reader's Digest, SHAPE Magazine, and various other publications. She loves writing about science news, health, wellness, food and drink, beauty, fashion, home decor, and her travels. Visit her site Living by Lex.