The first Police Olympics were held in San Diego, Californiain 1967. San Diego Police Captain Veon “Duke” Nyhus recognized the need to promote physical fitness and camaraderie amongst members of the law enforcement community. Duke formulated the idea of the Police Olympics and created the competition with an eye towards promoting physical fitness and sport as both a means for officers to, improve their overall fitness, reduce stress, and to increase their professional abilities.
That first year 504 competitors registered for competition in 16 sports held over 2 days. Following those first Police Olympics Duke wrote the following in the “Fall In” (San Diego Police Department’s magazine):
“One year ago, the announcement was made in San Francisco that the San Diego Police Officers Association would host the 1st Annual CaliforniaPolice Olympics. Now that event is history.
Frequently, time is necessary to determine the success or failure of a project. Not so with the Olympics. From the moment contestants began to arrive…comments were made about the program that warmed the hearts of the many officers that worked so hard to make the Police Olympics a successful venture. After the competition and awards presentation, the praises came fast and furious. Everyone was highly impressed and did not hesitate to tell us so.
There is only one way to account for this success. The men and women that believed in the idea of the Olympics worked hard to make this idea a reality. Every event came off without a major hitch. My hat is off to all that contributed to the establishment of what should become a great annual event.
The competition in every event was excellent. It was not until the competition began did anyone realize there were so many champions in law enforcement. State and National champions were found in Archery, Tennis, Weight Lifting, Pistol Shooting, Karate and Judo.
Competitors came to San Diegoto compete and compete they did. The main comment heard from the losers was ‘wait until next year. ”
Duke’s words and vision proved prophetic. What began in 1967 as the California Police Olympics is continuing to spread its influence across the United States of Americaand throughout the world. Today, there are a number of Police and Fire multi-sport athletic programs taking place throughout the United Statesand in several countries around the world. Many of these competitions publicly recognize Duke as the father of the movement.
California Police Olympics to United States Police & Fire Championships
The name of the original games has changed several times throughout the years. From 1967 through 1989 the Games were known as the California Police Olympics. In 1990 the name changed to the California Police Summer Games. With the inclusion of firefighters in 2000, the name changed to the California Police and Fire Games. 2005 brought the inclusion of several states in the western United States and a change to the Western States Police and Fire Games. Starting with the games in 2012, they will be known as the United States Police and Fire Championships (USPFC).
The United States Police and Fire Championships will now be open to eligible firefighting and law enforcement personnel, either active or retired, from all 50 states and United States’ territories. Competition has expanded from the original 16 sports to more than 60 events. As with the first California Police Olympics, the inaugural United States Police and Fire Championships will be held in San Diego.
The World Police & Fire Games Begin
With the continuing success of the California Games, planning began in 1983 for the first World Police & Fire Games, which were held in 1985 in San Jose, California. The aim of the World Police and Fire Games is to offer the same variety of sports, and same high caliber of venues, officials and athletic achievement as the California Games, but on a global scale.
Subsequent World Police & Fire Games have been held biennially in San Diego, California; Vancouver, Canada; Memphis, Tennessee; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Melbourne, Australia; Calgary, Canada; Stockholm, Sweden; Indianapolis, Indiana; Barcelona, Spain; Quebec City, Canada; Adelaide, South Australia; British Columbia, Canada; and New York City, New York; with upcoming Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland (2013); Fairfax County, Virginia (2015); and Montreal, Canada (2017).
The size and scope of the World Games continues to grow. Attendance has steadily increased as have the number of countries involved. While attendance averages about 9000, the 2011 WPFG in New Yorkholds the current attendance record with over 16,000 athletes competing in 67 sports from almost 70 countries. More than 10,000 competitors are expected to attend the Belfast, Northern Ireland Games in 2013. With family and traveling companions, the number in overall attendance will top 25,000.
While the World Olympics are indisputably number one in the terms of competitors attending, the two sports’ programs administered by the CPAF are second and third in number of entrants. In addition, our Games offer far more sporting disciplines than the Summer and Winter Olympics combined.
In 1970, the California Police Athletic Federation was established as a Federal “501 (c) 3” Non-Profit Corporation to administer and perpetuate the Games. CPAF is governed by a Board of Directors made up of active and retired police officers.
To better manage the Games, the World Police and Fire Games Federation, and the United States Police and Fire Championships Organizing Committee were created under the umbrella of the CPAF. The WPFG Federation Board of Directors includes fire service and law enforcement personnel from the U.S., Australia, Canada and Belgium.
Parties interested in hosting a future World Police and Fire Games are invited to contact the California Police Athletic Federation using the information below.
Mike Graham, President
California Police Athletic Federation
8304 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., #107
San Diego, California 92111 USA
For information on either the World Police and Fire Games or the United States Police and Fire Championships call (858) 571-9919 or look for updates on our web sites: www.cpaf.org or www.uspfc.org