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Buff and ready

Photo by Wally Bunker. Hours spent training in the wellness room at Culpeper police headquarters to prepare for the Lawfit Challenge paid off for (l to r) Sgt. Norma McGuckin, Detective Brittany Jenkins and Lt. Andrew Terrill.
Culpeper police Detective Brittany Jenkins loves physical fitness and competition.

Slightly less than two years ago, after competing and winning first place in the sit-and-reach in the eastern regional police physical fitness competition in Virginia Beach, Jenkins spent countless hours in the gym working out training for the national event in Mississippi.

But pregnancy and the birth of her second son 11 months ago put that training and desire to compete on hold until this year.

“We were training for this and then I got pregnant,” said Jenkins of the 2014 competition.

This year, Jenkins, 27, whose husband is Culpeper Sheriff’s Deputy David Jenkins, was joined by Sgt. Norma McGuckin, 40, and Lt. Andrew Terrill, 41, for the 1,700 mile round trip drive to Olive Branch, Mississippi for the mid-July 14th Annual 2015 National LawFit Challenge. About 140 officers from all over the country representing dozens of police departments, sheriff’s offices, state police, correctional agencies, the Department of Defense, Mississippi Fish and Wildlife and even Native American reservation police agency participated. This year was Culpeper’s first year in the national competition.

Jenkins and McGuckin took third place in the women’s pairs.

Before the competition began, the Culpeper trio expressed doubts they were prepared for the various physical exercises even though they had spent months training. The events include bench press, sit-ups, sit-and-reach, pull-ups, a 1.5 mile run and a 200-yard agility course, which includes a “suspect pursuit.” The course is the same for men and women.

“We had to wear our ballistic vests,” said Jenkins, “You are competing against yourself.”

After checking in, the Culpeper officers stood in the hotel lobby watching as buff and fit 25- to 27-year-old competitors checked in. They began to question how they would stack up against some of these competitors.

“Where are you from?” one participant asked.

“Culpeper,” Terrill replied

Culpeper brought a quizzical look, so Terrill told him Virginia. “Oh yeah, Virginia,” said the officer.

“They didn’t know where Culpeper was,” said Terrill, with a laugh. “At the end of the competition, they knew where it was.”

Jenkins and McGuckin were pleased with their third place women’s pairs finish. “I wasn’t the best,” said Terrill. “I wasn’t the worst.”

For McGuckin and Terrill the national challenge was their first LawFit competition; it was Jenkins’ third.

“I thought it would be a good incentive and good opportunity toward fitness,” said McGuckin, a police officer for nine years and sergeant for two. “I liked the experience.” The trio vows it won’t be their last LawFit Challenge.

“I just like competing against elite competition,” said Terrill, a former Marine. But Jenkins almost left the competition.

“I had just finished the bench press,” said Jenkins. “I got a call.. David (her husband) was in the hospital.” David might have to undergo emergency surgery, she was told.

“As I get this information, I am in panic mode,” said Jenkins, who began looking for flights home. She contacted the LawFit personnel to explain her dilemma.

“I don’t know if I can compete,” Jenkins recalled telling the event staffers. “”I don’t know if I can do this.”

“You could tell she was upset and really concerned,” said McGuckin about her teammate. The event trainers worked with Jenkins who spoke with her mother-in-law about David’s condition. She urged Jenkins to stay. Jenkins’ husband got on the phone, as well

“David’s telling me to bring home something,” Jenkins recalled. “Bring home a medal.” Not only did she bring home a third place award, but Jenkins also received the “Trooper Bobby ‘Bubba’ Wells Motivational Award.

Wells was a 30-year-old Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper, who died in the line of duty in June 1995. He was conducting a routine traffic stop on an Interstate highway when he was struck and killed by a passing motorist. Wells had only been a trooper for 18 months.

Jenkins was surprised at the award and still isn’t sure why the challenge officials chose her. She suspects it was her desire to compete while mentally wrestling with her husband’s medical emergency at home.

“Of all the awards I have gotten, this is probably the most special I have ever had,” said Jenkins, pointing to the engraved silver plate on her desk. As it turned out David didn’t require surgery.

The LawFit program was developed by Dr. David Bever of George Mason University in 1989. It requires dedication and time as officers juggle regular assignments, special assignments – Neighborhood Watch liaison, S.W.A.T., Law Explorers or translating.

“The department gives you an hour a day to work out,” said Terrill. Officers must listen to the radio while working out on duty and respond if needed.

“The majority of our time (training) was off duty, either before or after work,” said Jenkins.

Expenses for the fitness challenge were funded by donations from M.D. Russell Construction Company and Subway, which paid registration fees, hotel, meals and gas. Cody Perry provided custom T-shirts for the Culpeper officers to wear. The town provided the car used for the trip.

Police Chief Chris Jenkins (no relation to Brittany Jenkins) couldn’t be prouder of his officers’ performance.

“I am proud of all of them,” the chief said. “This really goes to what we are trying to do in fitness for law enforcement.”

“It’s a win-win for the department and the community,” Chief Jenkins added. “The biggest winners are the officers.” All three officers believe they can do better.

“When I got back (from Mississippi), this was day one,” said Terrill, who has been in law enforcement for 17 years. “We have already started talking about our workout regimen.” McGuckin hopes other officers will embrace fitness and train for the event.

“There is no excuse for anybody not to do this,” said Jenkins about fitness.

Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at wallybunker@outlook.com
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