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Time off work as incentive to stay fit

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Many people have made a New Year's resolution to lose weight and get in shape. Police officers in one Oklahoma town see an even bigger bonus.

More time in the gym, can mean more time off of work. Owasso Police Officer Tracy Townsend works out five, sometimes six days each week. The hard work in the gym can pay off, with time off.

"We felt the incentive program was a way to get officers in the gym and start trying to lose some weight," Owasso police officer said.

That incentive is extra vacation days; eight to 24 hours of additional vacation time.

To qualify, officers have to meet standards in five-out-of-nine physical fitness categories. The more points scored, the more time off work.

Townsend is one of 14 officers taking part in the voluntary program.

"My physical fitness is more than just something to help me get through my day at work. It's something to keep me alive in my everyday life," Townsend said. "I'm not exhausted as much as I was. I don't suffer from fatigue like I did before."

Police Chief Dan Yancy says the program has been successful in many ways.

"Not only does it help in the fact that they have to deal with suspects, it's a life and death situation in some cases," Owasso Police Chief Dan Yancy said. "But it also keeps them healthier, reduces stress. There are a lot of good things that come with the physical fitness part of it."

Over the first year of the program, all of the officers who signed up have earned at least some additional time off.
"A little more vacation time always helps everybody," Townsend said.

But, for Townsend, it's more than just extra vacation; it's also about changing bad habits, and becoming healthier for the New Year.

Owasso is hiring new officers right now. All of those new hires will be required to meet mandatory fitness guidelines, but they can still qualify for the vacation time incentive.

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