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  • Cops and Asthma

    I'm just curious if there ae any officers/deputies aroud here that either have asthma or know a cop that does. I'm currently a volunteer with my agency(Maricopa Co SO, AZ), and I've heard a couple of different things in relation to how my asthma will affect my chances of getting hired full time. I've been told by a buddy who is a former Phoenix officer(who HAS asthma) that you CAN be hired with asthma, as it is protected under the ADA. On the other hand, I've also heard that it's up to the agency's discretion to clear you medically or not. One last thing, for those that do have asthma, how difficult was Academy PT with your condition? Thanks!
    1*

    Ten dash eight!

  • #2
    Thirdgod - up until a couple of months ago I would have said, "Yes, you are absolutely covered under the ADA". But what is and is not recognized as a disability of a major life function (and what is/is not covered) changed drastically with a Supreme Court decision early this year.

    To backtrack a bit, take a look at this site from the DOJ (Questions and Answers: The Americans With Disabilities Act and Hiring Police Officers).

    http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/copsq7a.htm

    It gives you some good background information re: policies and procedures that govern hiring practices in LE, as they relate to the ADA. It also provides you with phone numbers for the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and the Department of Justices' ADA Information Line so that they can answer your specific questions directly.

    Some important issues in this paper:

    1. Your potential employer cannot ask you questions re: any medical issues and/or disabilities you may have until AFTER the department has made a conditional offer of employment

    2. This is for YOUR protection - ie. if you are eventually denied a position, you will know for sure that it was specifically because of your medical condition

    3. The department is also legally obligated to notify you (orally or in writing) after the medical, if your offer of employment is withdrawn because of your conditon, or if your placement on the list of applicants is impacted (ie. you are placed lower down on the list of candidates)

    Now it gets interesting. I really recommend that you read the site listed below - it's a publication entitled The Role of Mitigating Measures In the Narrowing of the ADA's Coverage - dated March 2003

    http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publicat...ngmeasures.pdf

    Bottom line - "mitigating measures should be considered in determining whether an individual has a disability under the ADA".

    Mitigating measures are "measures to control it (the condition), reduce it, compensate for its effects, or otherwise ameliorate the impact of the impairment".

    This includes such things as surgery, medications, and devices (eyeglasses, walkers, wheelchairs etc.).

    From what I get out of this paper, if you currently have asthma and take medication(s) to control the symptoms, and your condition does not limit "essential life functions" you are no longer considered to have a disability (and consequent coverage) under the ADA.

    Some things I would suggest that you do:

    1. Find out what the hiring standards are for your particular department (you currently volunteer there, so if your department is currently not aware of your condition I'm sure that you can get the information you need informally and "under the radar"). Different depts. have different standards so it is really important to find out what you're working with, and whether or not your asthma will even be a consideration.

    2. Become educated re: all laws and regulations that effect you and your condition (those phone numbers above will be a place to start)

    3. I am gonna assume that your condition is under control and has been for a good number of years. It would be helpful to get a medical certificate from your family doctor indicating this, and that you have no known physical limitations that would impact your performance on the job

    4. If you are not currently exercising, begin an exercise program. Running, lifting weights, pushups and ab crunches should get you through whatever fitness/agility testing they do prior to the conditional job offer. It will also serve you well at the academy - you don't want to go into the academy without being in half decent shape.

    5. If you were on any sports teams in school, and if it's not too many years removed, it might also be worthwhile to get letters from your coaches. Departments want to know that you are physically able to perform all the functions of the job, and that your condition will not be a liability to them (performance wise, health wise, liability wise etc.) now or in the foreseeable future. The more entities you can get to vouch for you (doctors, coaches etc.) the better. Up your odds as much as you can.

    My best suggestion is to start close to home - find out what hiring standards your specific department has and then go from there.

    I hope that if there are any officers reading this that have specific experiences with this issue (or know first hand of someone that has dealt with this issue) that they will also weigh in on this.

    Good luck, and stay safe.
    Last edited by krj; 03-07-2005, 11:59 PM.

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    • #3
      Wheeze wheeze...pardon me while I find my inhalor

      I was diagnosed with severe asthma/allergies at the ripe old age of 4.

      As far as I know they can't use your asthma as an excuse to not hire you, mainly because as long as your taking meds. for it then you can function pretty close to a "normal" persons breathing capabilities. Would be kinda like not hiring someone because they have poor vision when they aren't wearing their glasses/contacts.

      I think the only questions you need to ask is to yourself. If you are seeing what the other deputies are doing and you know you can do it then by all means have at it. If you question your ability to keep up with the same things they do then you might want to re-think things.

      It was never an issue when I got hired and was never brought up. The only relevent requirement (which everyone has to do) is to be able to pass the fitness stuff twice a year. For me it is a little tougher to pass the 1 1/2 run but I can still do it.

      As for our academy PT....it sucked. It was definitly the hardest part for me but I made it. I'm not to terribly out of shape and I use to hit the weight room pretty hard. My problem is the long distance running which was just about the only thing our PT instructor believed in. I was just always brining up the rear, didn't bother me any. One warning I would have for you, stay away from OC spray. If it's not a requirement at your academy to get sprayed then don't do it. Don't believe all the crap they say about it not affecting asthmatics because it does. The chances of it actually killing you is low but there's a good chance you'll be making a trip to the ER to get your airway opened up. Depends on how severe your asthma will react to the spray.

      I usually don't tell people I have asthma because then they want to treat you like your in intesive care or something. My main pet peeve. The people I do tell are usually shocked that I have it....unless they see me running the 1 1/2 mile

      On the job I just keep my fast acting inhalor in the ashtray for those rare instances, and keep up to date on taking the preventative stuff.

      Good luck
      He who laughs last.......thinks slowest

      Comment


      • #4
        [QUOTE]Originally posted by trouttrooper
        [B]

        As far as I know they can't use your asthma as an excuse to not hire you, mainly because as long as your taking meds. for it then you can function pretty close to a "normal" persons breathing capabilities. Would be kinda like not hiring someone because they have poor vision when they aren't wearing their glasses/contacts.


        Trouttrooper, I was hoping that you would weigh in on this so that you could share your personal experiences with this issue. Lots of great info.

        The only thing I would be cautious about would be the above quote. I don't EXPECT that Thirdgod's asthma would be a hiring issue, but I would still encourage him to find out for sure.

        I would recommend to ANYONE who has an on-going physical/medical issue to become familiar with the hiring standards of their chosen department because they can vary a good deal.

        Candidates who have diabetes or epilepsy (and who also take meds. to control symptoms so that they can function "normally") are having increasing difficulty being hired. I can think of at least one case of an incumbant officer who failed to control his diabetes while working, and lost his job because of it (a cautionary note that even those individuals with pre-existing conditions who have successfully been hired into a PD, need to continue to methodically control their condition if they do not wish to risk losing their job).

        I just wouldn't take anything for granted - find out for sure, rather than worrying or speculating whether or not your specific medical condition is a disqualifier.
        Last edited by krj; 11-11-2003, 02:18 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by trouttrooper
          Wheeze wheeze...pardon me while I find my inhalor

          I was diagnosed with severe asthma/allergies at the ripe old age of 4.

          As far as I know they can't use your asthma as an excuse to not hire you, mainly because as long as your taking meds. for it then you can function pretty close to a "normal" persons breathing capabilities. Would be kinda like not hiring someone because they have poor vision when they aren't wearing their glasses/contacts.
          trouttrooper- thanks a lot for your input, I was diagnosed at roughly the same age. My asthma has yet to be a performance issue in my volunteer duties.

          I think the only questions you need to ask is to yourself. If you are seeing what the other deputies are doing and you know you can do it then by all means have at it. If you question your ability to keep up with the same things they do then you might want to re-think things.

          It was never an issue when I got hired and was never brought up. The only relevent requirement (which everyone has to do) is to be able to pass the fitness stuff twice a year. For me it is a little tougher to pass the 1 1/2 run but I can still do it.
          The mile and a half is not as much an issue for me, I've always been more of a running person than a weights person. The three or four mile runs, though, that's another story.


          As for our academy PT....it sucked. It was definitly the hardest part for me but I made it. I'm not to terribly out of shape and I use to hit the weight room pretty hard. My problem is the long distance running which was just about the only thing our PT instructor believed in. I was just always brining up the rear, didn't bother me any. One warning I would have for you, stay away from OC spray. If it's not a requirement at your academy to get sprayed then don't do it. Don't believe all the crap they say about it not affecting asthmatics because it does. The chances of it actually killing you is low but there's a good chance you'll be making a trip to the ER to get your airway opened up. Depends on how severe your asthma will react to the spray.
          I would expect Academy PT to suck, part of the "character building" experience On the OC: I have actually already been sprayed, in order to be able to carry a firearm, OC, etc as a volunteer with my agency, you have to complete the sworn training regimen for those weapons. It was probably the most painful, unpleaseant thing I have ever experienced, but surprisingly enough my asthma didnt' act up much at all.

          I usually don't tell people I have asthma because then they want to treat you like your in intesive care or something. My main pet peeve. The people I do tell are usually shocked that I have it....unless they see me running the 1 1/2 mile

          On the job I just keep my fast acting inhalor in the ashtray for those rare instances, and keep up to date on taking the preventative stuff.

          Good luck
          Only a couple of the deputies I work with know I have it, and as far as I can tell they don't treat me any different than anyone else. Probably because they know that I'm willing to get down in the dirt, chase the bad guys, and jump into the fights right along with them. Thanks again for the info!
          1*

          Ten dash eight!

          Comment


          • #6
            Asthma was an issue for me during the hiring process. I was honest and listed that I had asthma but had not had an attack since age 12. At the time I was 28. All through the background it kept getting brought up. After getting a physical, passing the agility test without a problem and showing I did not require medication, all questions stopped. Apparently some of us outgrow it. I'm 35 now and still have not had an attack since age 12. All that to say, potential LE employers will be concerned with it, at least around here.
            In God we trust, all others are run MILES and NCIC.

            Comment


            • #7
              I too have asthma. I was even discharged at 17 from the air force when they found out. however, I could pass all physicals, and was hired over 12 years ago. The real key is the lung test. I was able to pass it. W/O passing it I would be hosed. PT wasn't bad because I was in shape. Lately, after 2 weeks of fire duty, my breathing is pretty tough, but I doubt the asthma really had anything to do with that.

              GOOD LUCK,

              Mike
              "Don't bother to run, you will only go to jail tired!"

              Comment


              • #8
                Last edited by Invisiblecop; 12-12-2003, 08:19 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have exercized induce asthma which was not fun since I am an avid soccer player. It got better the older I got. So yes, you can have asthma and be a cop. I know that it is harder to have asthma and be a firefighter, or so I have been told by them.

                  K9

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