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Around their home turf, Rhode Island state troopers have a reputation for ramrod-straight posture and six-pack abs. “You don’t see a lot of overweight Rhode Island troopers,” boasts Karen DeLucia Pinch, a twelve-year veteran of the state police force. “I think it’s almost a peer-pressure thing to stay in shape.”

A lot of that pressure is coming from Pinch herself. Despite being the mother of two young children, she is the two-time female champion of the LawFit Trooper Challenge, a national competition that tests troopers in six events. These include sit-ups, flexibility, pull-ups, bench presses, a 1.5-mile run, and an obstacle course that simulates the pursuit and arrest of a criminal suspect. Pinch has dominated the competition during its two-year existence, beating her closest female competitor both years by a wide margin. Her performance has also helped Rhode Island take the LawFit Trooper team title both years.

Pinch’s athleticism has helped her prove herself in a field dominated by men. When she joined in 1992, only thirteen of the roughly two hundred Rhode Island troopers were women. That number is now up to nineteen, although women still make up only 10 percent of the police force. At the police academy, she says, she had the option to do “women’s” push-ups with her knees on the floor. She refused. “I did the same one as the guys,” she recalls. “Instead of pull-ups, the women have the option of just hanging there, but I did the regular ones. If you get a reputation as someone who can take care of yourself, I think it goes a long way.”

So how does she stay in shape? Does she spend her weekends competing in triathlons and her vacations scaling Himalayan peaks? Hardly. Pinch runs and lifts weights during her lunch hour at state police headquarters, where, since giving up her cruiser in 1999 while she was pregnant with her second child, she works at a desk job in the traffic-services and planning unit. (She has also been an instructor at the state police academy.)

Pinch prepares for the LawFit competition by increasing the intensity of her workouts during the months before the annual fall event. As the reigning champion, Pinch is a target, but she looks forward to defending her title. “Everyone is out to get you,” she says, using the same matter-of-fact tone she might have once used with a motorist who’s just flashed eighty on a radar gun. “People knew what they had to do [last year], but the results were the results.”





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