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New DPS policy limits troopers' waistline sizes; lawsuit says it's discriminatory

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas – A lawsuit was filed Thursday challenging the relatively new addition to the Texas Department of Public Safety's physical fitness test, claiming that measuring waistlines isn't an accurate indicator of how well a trooper can do their job.

No more than 40, 35 inches

The Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association filed the lawsuit in Travis County Court.

The lawsuit challenges a new policy implemented last year that requires men's waistlines to be no larger than 40 inches and for women's to be no larger than 35 inches.

The union said it's discriminatory, saying troopers who may pass the physical fitness test and all other requirements with flying colors could still face termination, transfer or demotion or potentially lose out on overtime if their waists are too big.

The officers association also claims DPS enacted the new measure without the help of an outside consultant as is required by state law.

DPS declined to comment.

What other law enforcement leaders are saying

KPRC 2 reached out to Joe Gamaldi, the president of the Houston Police Officers Union, for insight. He said the test doesn't make sense.

The lawsuit claims that of the 1,100 or so commissioned troopers from spring, 2019, more than half did not pass the waistline requirements.

"This is probably one of the most idiotic policies I've ever seen a police leader trying to put on their people. By judging someone by their waist size, and judging that's how in shape they are. They already put them through rigorous fitness training, and now they're trying to test their waist size," Gamaldi said. "We have police officers all across this country who are in very good shape who work out every single day, but they have a larger waist and now you're saying they would be fired from their job because of it? It makes absolutely no sense."

Training

Troopers are required to pass two physical fitness tests each fiscal year, which the department says account for age and sex.