HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Former Hasbrouck Heights resident and Hasbrouck Heights alumni Marissa Romano addressed the Hasbrouck Heights Borough Council expressing concerns over administration of the police test, noting that Hasbrouck Heights has never had a female police officer. Romano recently moved from Hasbrouck Heights but is still involved in the recreation and high school track program.
Romano stated that she had applied for the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department in 2014, the last time the test was administered the physical part of the exam. She had recently completed her collegiate track career at the College of the Holy Cross, and had already completed an internship with the Bergen County Sheriff's Department Criminal Investigative Division.
She was required to have a physical exam, and have her doctor sign off that she was physically capable of completing the following exercises:
1 ½ mile run
300 yard spint
Sit and Reach
The first part of the test was administered at Depken Field, where the candidates completed the two required runs. They were told the rest of the exam were to be administered at the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department headquarters.
Upon reporting there, she was put on a scale, and taken to the situp room, where she did the required amount of sit ups. She was then brought to the weight room, where she was asked to bench press an amount that equalled 70 percent of her body weight. She completed six repetitions, the most she could complete at the time. She was then told that the physical test was finished. This portion of the test was completed with no other candidates around.
Additionally, Romano’s doctor had never given permission for the bench press to be administered, as it was not on the physical form which he signed. The vertical jump, pushups and sit-and-reach were never administered, nor was she ever told how many repetitions in the bench press was required, she said.
A week later, candidates were called in for interviews, but Romano was not one of them. Romano stated that she inquired as to why she was not called in, and she was told because she had failed the physical test since she had no completed enough repetitions.
Romano stated that in her research, no New Jersey police department, nor the Bergen County Prosecutors Office, nor the New Jersey State Troopers have bench press as one of the phycial requirements of testing. Per Romano, the Physical Agility Entrance Requirements for New Jersey Police Acadamies are"
- Completing the 1.5 mile run 15 minutes, 50 seconds
- Completing the 300 yard dash in 70.1 seconds
- A vertical jump of 15 inches
- 28 situps in one minute
- 24 pushups in one minute
“I am here sharing this information with you because I believe this process is something our town needs to look more closely at, “ Romano stated. “I know many of the officers in this department, and many in this very room, and they are great men with excellent ability to keep our town safe.
“However, this does not mean that our town would not benefit from having female police officers. I urge you to look into the quickly growing, extensive research into the necessity of having female law enforcement officers.
“Who are the immediate first responders for the victims of sexual abuse, rape or domestic abuse when many of these women do not feel comfortable being surrounded by or accompanied by men after an incident? Women officers are skilled at addressing violence against women, special victims, minority populations, and investigations of sex crimes.
“Women officers are vital at improving community relations,” Romano continued. “Studies have shown that women are less reliant on physical force and more effective communicators thus resulting in less violent, or potentially deadly situations. This is a small, close knit town, and everyone in this room knows that. So I ask, ‘why do our young girls, girls like my younger self, be made to belief that is nor a possible career choice as future career women.
“As town officials, I urge you to look more closely at the way this process takes place in Hasbrouck Heights.
"I excelled in the physical and written examination of this test. I was a Division I athlete who attended a top-tier school. At the time I had taken this test, I had just taken the Officers Candidate School test for the US Marine Corps, for which I scored in the highest possible tier for both men and women. I find it extremely hard to accept that I was offered the opportunity to attend Officers Candidate School but I was deemed a failure at this physical test.
“With that being said, I believe that there were many parts of the process that were unjust. To be clear, my doctor never signed off on a bench press, so not only was a blindsided, but I also do not believe this was legal. Furthermore, I was never told how many repetitions of the benchpress needed to be completed. It could have been 5, 10, 15, 40 or simply just one more rep over the amount I was able to do. “
“I speak with you tonight not because I am angry, and not because I want a job with the police department,. I speak to you as a woman who has obtained a Master’s Degree in a completely different field and is pursuing a career in which she is thoroughly enjoying. I speak with you to ensure that the young girls and women in this town can grow up believing that they have equal oportunity to pursue the same opportunities of their male peers.”
Mayor DeLorenzo addressed Romano’s concerns, noting that it was something that would be looked at closely when the next time this process occurs. He noted that as a former member of the military police, who served with many female MPs, he understands the capabilities of women law enforcement officers.
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