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A new policy issued by the Texas Department of Safety (DPS) requires all state troopers to get in shape and reduce their waistlines or face disciplinary action.
The Dallas Morning News obtained the controversial report which states that men with waistlines greater than 40 inches and women over 35 inches must tighten up by Dec 1 of this year or suffer penalties that may include halted promotions, denial of overtime and possible removal from enforcement duties.
The new restriction will reportedly affect more than 200 troopers in the state and comes at a time when Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star requires a surge of troopers to aid in combatting both drug and human trafficking as well as the flood of illegal migrants descending upon Texas at the porous southern border.
Of the approximately 4,000 state troopers, 213 have been deemed in violation of the new standard, but of that number, only two also failed a physical fitness test in which officers can choose between a rowing test, a combat fitness evaluation, or a standard assessment similar to the long-held U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test that includes push-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. (The Army test is currently being revamped).
Critics of the new initiative say it targets women unfairly and that waistlines are arbitrary in determining physical fitness.
“DPS is continuing in its plan to harass, discipline, and even discharge outstanding officers for not meeting its physical fitness testing standards and appearance standards,” the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association said in a statement.
A DPS spokesperson said the state agency “continuously evaluates all programs for improvement,” according to The News.
“Recommendations and potential changes will be discussed at the August 2022 (Public Safety Commission) meeting after the department has analyzed data from two complete testing cycles,” the statement said. Texas state troopers must submit to a physical fitness test twice annually.
Similar to the military, officers with waistlines over the limit can still pass via alternate measurables such as height and weight proportions and body fat composition.
Those who fail will undergo a remedial diet and exercise program to assist them in meeting the new standard by December and avoid disciplinary action. The outlet reported the troopers are given a certain amount of flexibility and entrusted to create their own fitness plans, but they must log their progress.
“I will drink no more than one diet soda each day,” one officer pledged in a fitness improvement plan obtained by The News. Another officer has set out to “drastically cut sugar intake in all its forms” and avoid eating fast food.
The Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association had previously sued to stop the waistline reduction policy in 2019, but the case was dismissed because no penalties had been enforced.
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