A policy that allegedly targets the waistlines of female DPS officers has come under scrutiny following a lawsuit that was recently filed by the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Associations.
The policy was put into place in 2018 by DPS, and states that the waists of male officers are not permitted to be larger than 40 inches in size, while the waists of female officers are not permitted to be larger than 35 inches in size.
According to the lawsuit, the policy is believed to be discriminatory and alleges that those who fail to meet the standards involving physical fitness run the risk of being terminated from their positions, as well as potential demotions and transfers to other departments, despite the fact that they may have completely passed all other requirements involving physical fitness. Currently, the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association is requesting an injunction from a judge to put a stop to the policy until it’s officially determined whether or not it’s actually legal to have a requirement like this put in place.
The lawsuit goes on to show that in the spring of 2019, DPS conducted fitness testing on a total of 1,153 officers. Out of that total, 594 failed to meet the requirements involving waistlines, over half of all total officers.
The president stated the following as part of a news release:
“Not only is this policy demeaning, it is damaging to our troopers and to our citizens. Not all physically fit troopers are of the same body type, the same height or the same genetic makeup.”
Furthermore, he states that the agency also broke a Texas state law requiring them to use a consultant for any new policies that they adopt.
“There was nothing done. No consulting with the officers done. No bringing of the officers in to talk with them and get their opinions on it.”
Additionally, the vice president of the national Fraternal Order of Police, who is also the president of the Houston police association, has also weighed in on the policy, saying, “Waistlines are rarely ever used for any kind of measure for physical fitness because it isn’t the 1950s anymore.”
DPS, however, says that the policy is a way to help address both obesity and cardiovascular diseases that are common among law enforcement officers, with the policy being a way to “take proactive steps to address this health and officer safety risk.”
The chair of the Public Safety Commission also had the following to say in support of the policy:
“To not have a program is tantamount to looking the other way. It’s our obligation to the people of the department to have such a program and to assist people to live the healthiest life possible.”
Since the filing of the lawsuit, the Texas Department of Public Safety has not released a statement regarding the filing itself.
Only time will tell how DPS and the Texas Department of Public Safety plan on handling this issue going forward.
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