Courthouse gym keeps deputies pumped

Oct. 30, 2013 @ 09:43 AM

Durham County sheriff’s deputies are becoming more fit and less sick thanks to a gym in the new courthouse.
The workout area in the basement offers equipment for cardio and strength training, and is part of the sheriff’s emphasis on physical fitness, according to sheriff’s Maj. Paul Martin.
“We want deputies to be in shape, and most of them are using it,” Martin said. “Physical fitness is extremely important for law enforcement.”
Deputies are often required to get physical. That could mean running up a flight of stairs, chasing a suspect on foot or helping to clear a highway after a wreck.
“If you’ve driving home and you see somebody lying in the street, you might have to pick them up and move them,” Martin said. “There are all kinds of things you can encounter. Even if you go to the shooting range and you aren’t in good shape, you might not shoot very well.”
The gym has treadmills, a StairMaster, medicine balls, dumbbells, kettlebells, free weights, barbells and bicycles. It also has four wide-screen televisions and a locker room with showers.
Sgt. Jeff Daughtry, who supervises courthouse deputies, said many use the gym during lunchtime. They sign in and out of a book that Daughtry keeps in his office so he can keep track of who is participating – and nearly everyone is.
“I have a younger generation of deputies, but the great thing is that the older generation is also working out – not as high impact, but they’re doing something,” he said.
Daughtry sees deputies losing pounds and gaining strength and energy, making them more effective on the job.
“The great thing is that this reduces injuries – things that could put a deputy out of work,” Daughtry said. “Someone who’s out of shape might pull a hamstring and be out of work for months.”
He said fewer deputies are filing workers’ compensation claims and visiting doctors for injuries since the gym opened in February.  
The gym is available to all sworn deputies in the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, including those who work in the jail. He estimates 25 to 50 people use it on a typical day.
Although some decline to exercise, he said, most do.
“We take the position that you don’t have an excuse now not to work out,” Daughtry said. “You can’t say that a gym membership is too expensive, because we’ve provided you a place.”