Marion sheriff emphasizes deputy fitness with obstacle course requirements

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair has a new order for all of his deputies: shape up.
           
A new contract with the union representing more than 200 deputies includes the mandatory completion of an obstacle course. It will soon be part of the job.
 
The sheriff said it won't be shape up or ship out, but later on there could be penalties if sworn officers can't cut it.           
 
"Any time you do something new and innovative you're going to have some backlash from it," said Capt. James Pogue, of the Sheriff's Office.
 
"We've had one in the past and the minute someone said, 'I can't get over the fence,' they did away with the fence, and nobody had to do it and we're still out of shape," said Sgt. Tim Richie, with the sheriff's training division.
 
The Fraternal Order of Police did convince the administration to drop plans to terminate deputies who couldn't beat the timer. 
 
Every deputy, from the top down, will have to complete the course. Those running the course will have eight minutes, 30 seconds to complete it. Channel 9's Berndt Petersen ran the course in his street shoes and finished it in 6:45.
 
"Sheriff Chris Blair has been out here.  His command staff and his senior staff have all been out here.  And they all ran the course and they've all been successful," said Pogue.