DALLAS, Texas (NewsNation) — State troopers in Texas are being told they could be pulled off the beat and assigned to desk duty if they don’t trim their waistlines.
Male officers with a waist of more than 40 inches and female troopers with a waist greater than 35 inches could also lose out on overtime and promotions if they don’t cut down on their weight by the end of the year.
Why? Department leaders believe a “trim midsection” is necessary for officers to have a “commanding presence” in dealing with the public.
NewsNation host Dan Abrams weighed in on the requirements.
“That sounds like something out of the 1960s,” Abrams said Thursday on “Dan Abrams Live.” “Conceptually, I like the idea of troopers being fitter. It’s better for them and probably will allow them to do their jobs better. But keep in mind, Texas State Troopers are already struggling with hiring and recruitment, just like virtually every other police department in the country, so I’m not sure this is a good thing.”
Abrams asked retired Tulas police Lt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin what he makes of the restrictions.
“Obviously, fitness is so important in the law enforcement profession because you are expected to do things above and beyond. You’re responsible for obviously helping citizens, as well as your fellow officers and possibly even taking care of your own life. I do however, have a problem with the requirement … based strictly on a waist size, because I have plenty of guys that I’ve worked with through the years that were college athletes, football players, things like that, that are bigger guys, but are outstanding athletes, you know, in better shape than some of the thinner guys. So I wish it was more based off of something like that,” Larkin added.
Texas has reportedly been trying to implement the requirements since 2019. Larkin says his own department in Tulsa had a physical requirement to go through the academy.
“When I first got on, you had a requirement that you went through the academy and then after that you were never tested again,” Larkin said. “So you saw guys get out of the academy and balloon up very quickly unfortunately. Later on, the department and our FOP union negotiated with the city and it’s something now mandatory after a certain date of hire they have a yearly test they must do. I’m all for that. I think there are minimum requirements any male or female police officer should be able to do throughout their career.”
Out of about 4,000 Texas state troopers, 213 of them failed the waistline requirement and two of them failed their physical fitness tests.
According to the Dallas Morning News, most Texas officers who failed the waist measurement passed the department’s running, rowing and weightlifting tests, suggesting that state troopers with proven strength and stamina may be discounted simply for their size.
Still, certain Texas troopers are being placed on a fitness improvement plan where they have to track what they’re eating, drinking and how often they’re exercising. Then they must report the data to their superiors. Several questions remain about the program.