AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A new tool from the FBI gives a glimpse into the training regimen for agents.
The agency's FBI FitTest app was released this week, featuring videos, training tips and information about careers.
"You may have to run and chase a bank robber," Special Agent Michelle Lee said. "You may actually get into a tactical situation where you're having to have a physical encounter with a subject."
Lee said the app is mostly designed for those seeking careers in law enforcement to evaluate his or her own performance, appealing to a tech-savvy population that latches on to smartphones and tablets.
"It is a way where we can really educate them better, where they can take that info in a platform they're comfortable using and prefer using rather than pulling up a document on a website," Lee explained.
Each law enforcement agency has its own fitness test that prospects face in order to earn the badge.
At the Round Rock Police Department, that test includes running, jumping, wall climbs and going up and down stairs.
"We need to be able to respond to those calls, not just in a timely manner but be able to do so effectively," Det. Tim Stevenson, a trainer for the department, said. "We like to talk about not just physical fitness but functional fitness."
Kyle police have a similar approach. Captain Pedro Hernandez said the department employs a three-pronged approach to serving: physical, emotional and spiritual.
"Whether it's a state agency, local agency, or federal agency, I think it's important to all those agencies that those applicants, those employees are physically fit to meet the demands of their job," Hernandez said.
Lee said the app will help prospective agents set realistic goals before reporting for the training academy in Quantico, Virginia.
"Whenever someone reports there for training, they quit their job, and in many cases they move their household goods, put them in storage, so they begin in their new lives," Lee explained. Before, people who wanted to become agents would move to Virginia before being tested, and some would not pass. Now, applicants submit a self-test before being tested in person. Implementing the mobile app gives applicants a chance to take practice tests in the gym straight from their phones, and set new fitness goals.
"We love to see individuals who may not have been physically fit in the past who are able to set their eyes on progress and are able to attain those goals because we like to see progress-oriented and success-oriented individuals join the FBI," Lee said.
The feds and the state are monitoring the health and strength of citizens. According to the Department of Defense, close to 300,000 current service members are considered non-deployable because of poor physical fitness, physical injury and mental illness.
Texas lawmakers held a hearing in February to evaluate the readiness and fitness of Texas youth to join the military. A report from the Council for a Strong America indicated 73 percent of Texans between 17-24 years old do not qualify for military service.