Fresno PD's Wellness Program under fire

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno Police Department is continuing to enroll its officers into a special Wellness Program. Since 2002 this incentive based plan gives officers the chance to earn up to 56 hours of additional pay a year for making healthy lifestyle changes.

Jacky Parks said, "Educate employees how to eat properly and what supplements do to your body. How exercise can help you with sleep apnea. Or how stopping smoking can expand your life."

The department will be spending about $90 thousand a year for the next three years.

Chris Mathys from the Valley Taxpayers Coalition believes in this tough economy the Wellness Program is unnecessary. He says every effort should instead be made to keep more officers on the streets.

Valley Taxpayers Coalition, Chris Mathys said, "Once that's taken care of and there's extra funds then let's get well, there's nothing wrong with that. But right now we're underfunded where we need to be funded."

But the officers who participate in the program swear by it. Joshua Sharp says the help of two full time Wellness Staff members helps him make better choices, which helps him avoid taking extended sick leave. Sharp also says officers in the program are less likely to get hurt which means fewer workers comp claims.

Officer Sharp said, "Able to come down every day before work and get in a good workout. You've got some good resources if you need them down here."

Mathys says since the private sector doesn't get taxpayer help for being stressed the public sector shouldn't either. But cutting the program won't happen any time soon. It's written into the police contract and doesn't expire until 2012.

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