Austin, TX – More than 200 Texas state troopers have been told they have to reduce their pants size in seven months or face consequences.
Documents obtained by the Dallas Morning News showed that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has ordered male troopers with waists larger than 40 inches, and female troopers with waists larger than 35 inches, to slim down.
The troopers who have been ordered to reduce their waist measurements are required to track their weight-loss efforts and report their progress to DPS.
Under the policy, any trooper who doesn’t get their waist measurement into the approved zone before the end of the year could face consequences, even if they can pass their physical fitness tests, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Troopers who don’t meet waist-measurement reduction goals can be denied promotions and overtime, and even lose their law enforcement powers, according to the documents.
In the most recent round of tests administered, almost all of the troopers who flunked the waist measurement requirement successfully passed the running, rowing, and weight lifting tests, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The proposal to remove larger troopers from the field comes at the same time that law enforcement agencies across the nation are struggling with recruitment and retention.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s enforcement efforts at the U.S. border have put additional strain on the state’s already short-staffed agencies.
DPS leadership has wanted to crack down on overweight troopers for years and insist troopers must have a trim midsection in order to have a commanding “presence” with the general public, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Out of about 4,000 troopers, 213 had failed the waistline requirement as of April.
But only two of the 213 with waist measurements above the line flunked their physical fitness exams, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Troopers may choose between a combat fitness evaluation, rowing tests, or a standard assessment of push-ups, sit-ups, and a mile-and-a-half-run.
DPS policy allows troopers who have waist measurements over the limit to pass using measures based on percentage of body fat or height and weight; however, it’s unclear how many were waived through using the alternative requirements.
Troopers whose waists have been deemed too large are put on fitness improvement plans with food and exercise goals, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The DPS Fitness Wellness Unit sets up the plans and requires the troopers to document their progress.
It was not clear whether troopers were being given time on the clock to work out and whether required gym memberships were being reimbursed, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“I will drink no more than one diet soda each day,” one trooper wrote in his fitness improvement plan.
Another trooper’s plan included a promise to “drastically cut sugar intake in all forms” and to stop eating fast food.
One veteran trooper wrote in his plan that he was worried about aggravating old military injuries but promised to document his efforts at running on a cell phone app and let DPS track his progress by measuring his waist once a week, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Another trooper wrote in his plan that he would go on regular walks and provide proof he was reducing his sugar intake, according to documents obtained through an open records request.
DPS’s implementation schedule calls for troopers to reach their waist measurement goals by Dec. 1 or face possible reassignment and loss of eligibility for promotions and overtime, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The union that represents the Texas troopers is outraged, according to KXXV.
“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.
The troopers’ union tried to file a lawsuit to stop DPS from implementing the waist measurement policy but a judge dismissed the case because no troopers had actually been penalized under the policy at that point, KXXV reported.