Beginning this month, the Texas Department of Public Safety will begin recording the height, weight and "waist [belly] measurement" of its 4,297 commissioned officers during their routine physical readiness tests, according to an email sent last week. All officers are required to pass two physical fitness assessments each fiscal year, reports the Dallas Morning News.
"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," Skylor Hearn, deputy director of administration and services wrote in an email to officers. "As such, the department will take proactive steps to address this health and officer safety risk."
Officials from the Texas State Troopers Association and the Department of Public Safety Officers Association, which represent officers, said that they weren't consulted about the new data collection program but that they haven't heard complaints from officers.
"The significant health risk associated with obesity and its impact on the protective services industry [police officers, firefighters, and correctional officers] was already documented 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."
The department's height and weight measurements will be used to generate a body mass index score, categorized into underweight, normal, overweight and obese based on a formula from the Centers for Disease Control. A body mass index over 25 indicates a person is overweight and over 30 indicates obesity.