GARFIELD, N.J. — Dennis Serritella of Garfield says being a police officer means always being ready for the unknown.
That also happens to be one of CrossFit's tag lines: "train for the unknown and unknowable."
Serritella combined both and built a CrossFit affiliate at the department's new headquarters on Belmont Avenue, where he's been training almost 20 officers since April 1.
"Training for the unknown and the unknowable is pretty much our job to an exact," said Serritella, a detective and Certified Level 1 CrossFit coach.
"You have to be ready to pounce at any second."
Serritella was looking to open a CrossFit gym in the same building before he knew it was going to be police headquarters — but it didn't work out.
When he got a tour of the new headquarters, he realized a room in the back wasn't being used. And there were no plans yet to do anything with it.
With the blessing of Chief Raymond Kovach, Serritella made his proposal at a December Mayor and Council meeting.
"I explained how CrossFit and law enforcement go hand-in-hand," said Serritella, who last year was ranked the top-performing male CrossFit athlete in New Jersey law enforcement.
"They just needed to know what we’d need financially."
The nearly $12,000 was approved, and Serritella wasted no time getting the gym together. Almost $10,000 went to the equipment and $2,000 to the rubber flooring.
Garfield city workers helped build a wall and Serritella and Garfield detective Robert Meehan together painted the walls — complete with a blue line.
Serritella credits Meehan for much of the labor.
Nearly 35 Garfield police officers signed the CrossFit waiver, and between 15 and 20 show up for classes with Serritella, their coach, three days a week, either at 1:30 p.m. or midnight.
Serritella creates the workouts — box jumps, ring dips, snatches and more — and says he's already noticing the effects his classes are having on his colleagues.
"Some of the guys are in better moods and people are dropping weight — one guy lost 20 pounds," he said. "People are getting leaner and they carry themselves differently, from the way they look to the way they act."
"It teaches mental fortitude — mental toughness."
The arduous training sessions have built the department up as a team, Serritella added.
"The stuff we through during the workouts is like building a team," he said. "We're building camaraderie within the bureau."