Tue, Jul 31, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Taipei County police officers getting fatter: survey

By Huang Li-hsiang and Cheng Shu-ting  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taipei County residents are seeing more of local police than ever before, according to a recent survey by the Taipei County Police Department, but the news is not as good as it sounds.

Instead of increasing police numbers by hiring more officers, the department is merely employing a heavier workforce, the survey showed. A record total of 115 officers with a body mass index of 29 or above, indicating at least moderate obesity, are patrolling the streets, especially in Yonghe (永和) and Sinjhuang (新莊) cities.

A statistical measure of a person's weight with height factored in, the index defines "overweight" as a score of 25 or more. A score of 30 or more indicates obesity, while normal weight falls within the 18 to 25 range.

Yonghe's finest are also Taipei County's heaviest at 18; Sinjhuang ranks second with 14; while Shulin City (樹林市) weighs in at 13, according to the survey, conducted by the department's training section.

Of 112 overweight officers, only one is a woman, but she at least has an excuse: She's a former world judo champion with a need for some chunkiness, and she knows how to throw her weight around.

All the extra weight, the survey said, appears to be taking a toll. One Sinjhuang officer weighing more than 120kg has been on sick leave since February, when he suffered a minor stroke.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, mid-ranking officers said the weight gain is closely connected to the stressful nature of police work, which includes night shifts, irregular working hours and having little choice but to eat out.

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