DALLAS — The Texas Department of Public Safety will begin recording the height, weight and waistlines of its more than 4,000 troopers during their routine physical readiness tests.
The measurement recording starting this month is part of the department’s new obesity data collection program, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“Obesity is a significant health issue in the United States and in the law enforcement profession. In addition to the personal health risks, obesity significantly detracts from an officer’s command presence and negatively impacts their overall effectiveness,” department official Skylor Hearn wrote to officers. “As such, the department will take proactive steps to address this health and officer safety risk.”
Texas requires law enforcement officers to pass a physical test, but individual agencies can set their own standards.
The Public Safety Department has slowly increased its fitness standards since 2010 with the goal of “ensuring a physically fit and well-trained force that is ready to safely respond to any situation,” according to its policy.
Some officers are concerned the data collection is an attempt to push out older troopers by adding fitness requirements.
“I guess maybe they’re trying to make it tougher, to force these guys to leave,” said Jack Crier, executive director of the Texas State Troopers Association. “That’s just an opinion.”
Department spokesman Tom Vinger has denied that notion, saying that the measurements don’t change the fitness requirements, which are tiered based on gender and age.
Vinger said officers ultimately categorized as obese based on the measurements will be required to participate in nutrition and fitness programs.
“The significant health risk associated with obesity and its impact on the protective services industry was already documents in our policy manual,” Vinger said. “We are simply moving from talking about the health risk to identifying it — and providing support to those impacted by it.”
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com