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Rosemount police whip themselves into shape

Tim Murphy has led efforts at the Rosemount Police Department to get into better shape.

There's a new kind of conversation these days around the Rosemount Police Department. Officers talk to each other about the healthy foods they're eating, the weight they've lost and the new smartphone apps they can use to track their calories.

It's a big push for better physical fitness that started with several individual officers deciding they needed to get in better shape.

For officer Tim Murphy, who chief Eric Werner credits with leading the effort, the inspiration came from a couple of places. The first was a photo of himself taken on a vacation. He looked out of shape, and not at all like the person he wanted to be.

The second was the death of a popular retired officer who was only a year older than Murphy.

Put those two together and Murphy decided it was time to make some changes. He joined a gym, hired a personal trainer and started working out regularly and eating better.

He also noticed other officers around the department making some of the same changes, and he brought them all together, united in a common goal.

"We talk to each other. We kind of feed off of each other as far as talking about our next goal and what we're doing to achieve that goal," Murphy said.

Murphy has lost 55 pounds since he started working out. At least one other officer has lost more than 50 and a couple of others have lost 25 pounds or more.

That kind of change isn't always easy. The sterotype of the cop in the donut shop exists because once upon a time those were the places that were open late for officers who worked odd hours. There aren't many donut shops around anymore, but there are fast food restaurants and convenience stores, where it's often easier to buy a microwave pizza or a burger than it is to find a healthy meal.

Breaking those habits and getting fit can make a big difference, Murphy said. When you're an out-of-shape cop, even getting out of the car with the 40 pounds of gear you wear around your waist can be a chore.

"It affects your mood. It affects how you deal with the stress," Murphy said. "Your sleep patterns get better. Your attitude in general is better. The camaraderie is better. We have common goals."

Some officers have started mountain biking together on a regular basis.

Everybody seems to support everyone else. When someone gets caught eating too much junk food, they get a hard time from the other officers. When one person found an app that tracked calorie intake and calories burned, it got passed around the department and soon just about everyone was using it.

There might also be a certain amount of competition involved. Murphy got a text Monday from one of the department's sergeants informing of him of a two-pound weight drop. Murphy said he planned to hit the gym extra hard that night.

Murphy said he wants to take care of his body now so he can enjoy his retirement.

Werner is happy to see the efforts his officers are making to get in shape. He knows the toll being a police officer can take, and he knows being fit can make it easier to deal with some of those stresses.

"To me it boils down to, they're bringing balance to their lives," Werner said. "What is exciting about this is, it's not a directive from the chief. This is officers taking the initiative to know what's best."

Murphy has gotten some other attention for his efforts, too. He was a regional finalist in an Anytime Fitness competition to find fitness success stories. If he had won the national award he would have gotten a trip to Florida. It would have been a great chance to replace the vacation photo that got him started in the first place.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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