RU students present health and fitness plans to Radford City Police Department

Radford University students in the course "Research Methods in Criminal Justice" capped off a semester spent researching health and wellness in law enforcement by presenting their findings to Radford City Chief of Police Don Goodman '84.

The students used the results of surveys conducted among Radford City Police Department (RCPD) officers as the basis for their research. Presenting in groups of five at a time, they spoke to Goodman and their peers on a variety of wellness topics, from physical training and fitness standards to proper nutrition and rest.

"The amount of effort and research is outstanding," said Goodman. "I'm getting all sorts of ideas, some of which I've had before, but the student research is really reinforcing those thoughts."

The RU Department of Criminal Justice maintains a strong link with RCPD and events like this research presentation are mutually beneficial to students and RCPD employees alike. "Research Methods in Criminal Justice" is taught by Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Nicole Hendrix, who has invited Goodman to campus before.

"One of the unintended benefits of this is the relationship that is forming between the department and RU," Goodman said. "I hope I can provide them a glimpse inside the reality that we go through and this is one of the great benefits of my job. This is the third time I've worked with one of Dr. Hendrix's classes and I have not been disappointed at all."

Although the students found that surveys indicated the RCPD was home to many physically fit officers and employees, research shows there are serious health issues affecting police departments nationwide.

"Some studies show that police officers tend to be less fit than the national average," said Bryan Orcutt, junior criminal justice student. "This affects an officer's ability to protect and serve."

Orcutt and senior Austin Cox, one of his fellow group members, both agreed that the focus on health and wellness is beginning to spread.

"We've looked at surveys and national data and this is starting to be more of an issue that police departments want to look at," Cox said.

Hendrix addressed the class before they presented their research, thanking Goodman and the RCPD and congratulating the students on their hard work.

"I am very proud of your effort," Hendrix said to the assembly. "I don't think any of you would say this has been an easy class or an easy semester."

The Department of Criminal Justice is housed under the umbrella of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS).

"Professor Hendrix's class is another example of the outstanding work our faculty and students do collaborating with our community partners to make Radford a better place to live and work," said CHBS Dean Kate Hawkins. "In addition, these applied projects help our students develop the skill sets they will need to secure good jobs after graduation from RU.  It's a win-win for all involved."

Dec 10, 2013