TANGERANG, Indonesia – Potbellied police in Indonesia's capital have been ordered to exercise, exchanging their uniforms twice a week for sweats and sneakers as they line up for aerobics and push-ups to try to drop a few pounds.
Anyone over 220 pounds must follow the weight-loss program started because of the growing number of overweight officers and the perception that they are unable to provide public protection, Jakarta police spokesman Col. Rikwanto said Wednesday. Like many Indonesians he uses only one name.
He said stress, sedentary lifestyles and junk food have made the capital's police officers put on unwanted weight. Registration that began last week has already enrolled nearly 300 heavy officers, and anyone deemed too fat will be required to exercise at least twice a week. He added that there are plans to expand the program nationwide.
No one will be punished for not losing weight, but the officers are not allowed to skip the exercise sessions. They can work at their own pace and are not required to follow strict diets.
A similar program was started last month by police in Tangerang, a city on the outskirts of Jakarta with 1,470 police officers. They hired trainers to help 132 overweight officers get into shape. The program also involves a medical team that helps to monitor diets and health issues.
"The fat and paunchy cops can't expect to catch fleeing criminals," said Tangerang Police Chief Col. Wahyu Widada, while joining Tuesday afternoon's exercise session along with hundreds of other officers, including obese cops. "This program is aimed at changing their unhealthy lifestyles."
Some officers said they have managed to lose almost 4.5 pounds after joining the program a month ago. Others said they've seen no change.
"I was embarrassed by my appearance. They keep motivating me ... it's hard, but I have to try," said Sgt. Sugiar, who weighs about 286 pounds and stands 5 feet 7 inches tall. "No changes so far."
Indonesian police are typically viewed negatively by the public in a country where corruption runs rampant and officers have been involved in taking bribes.