So far, no one's pointed to any evidence linking lack of physical fitness among some Houston Police Department officers with problems like the disproportionate Tasering of minorities, the shootings of quite a few mentally ill folks, or even the supreme fuck-up that put an innocent man in prison for six years for child molestation.
But earlier this week, some Houston City Council members voiced concern that some cops might be too out-of-shape.
The Houston Chronicle quoted Councilwoman Toni Lawrence as saying "Are they in the best condition they can be?....I think the answer is no." Apparently, "some of her constituents have reported to her their fears that they might have to save an official Houston lifesaver in an emergency, and not vice versa."
It seems that none of her constituents are worried about being thrown in prison for a crime they didn't commit, which is a fate Hair Balls believes is slightly more uncomfortable than having to administer mouth-to-mouth to a fat dude. (Hair Balls wonders just how many of the more than 5,000 HPD officers out there these constituents believe don't cut the mustard. Hair Balls also wonders just who exactly are these constituents who go through their day preoccupied with the fear that they might be called upon to save a peace officer? That's just freakin' weird).
Hair Balls asked Charley Wilkison of the Austin-based Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas if his organization had an official position on continued physical fitness standards.
"Your supervisor sees you every day under the best and worst conditions, and they evaluate you, at least annually," Wilkison told Hair Balls, right before questioning the Council's "sort of self-righteous punitive kick right after [the] new year."
Wilkison also suggested tubby-terror might be a two-way street: "Who knows - some of the policemen may be worried about the fat politicians," he said, later adding, "You've got a lot of alcohol and caloric intake in being a politician...."
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The Chron also reported that Mayor Bill White asked a city attorney to look into the possibility of mandating fitness requirements without the union's consent, thus doing his part to maintain that old adage about successful mayors: "No matter what, try to piss off your police department whenever possible!"
Gary Blankenship, the president of the Houston Police Officers Union, and an officer with 28 years on the job, told Hair Balls, "I would caution the mayor [on]moving forward on anything like that when over 50 percent of his work force in the police department's eligible to retire, and he's already 1,500 police officers short. There are lot of police officers that perform very valuable functions every day that may not entail chasing a crook over a fence and, you know, leaping tall buildings in a single bound. But they're very productive investigators and things like that. And to just blanketly go in there, I think it'd be very detrimental to the department and the citizens."
So there you go - Hair Balls is sure this physical fitness thing will be resolved in no time!
-- Craig Malisow