The effort by some Houston police officers to wear beards on the job (and off the job, too, we guess) was dealt a setback when a federal judge threw their lawsuit out of court.
HPD brass trumpeted the decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal in a press release in which chief Harold Hurtt said the judge's "decision will enable the Houston Police Department to continue to equip officers so they can safely do their jobs of protecting the public at all times."
Hurtt and HPD had argued that beards would interfere with wearing gas masks and other equipment used against chemical attacks. Some of the cops said that they had skin conditions which were aggravated by shaving.
Said the department:
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The court accepted evidence from the Houston Police Department, the manufacturer of the masks, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that a police officer with facial hair (i.e. beard) cannot safely wear the masks. Therefore, any police officer with a skin condition that temporarily or permanently prevents shaving will not be allowed to work in certain uniform assignments like SWAT, Special Response Group, Crime Scene Unit and/or any "call for service" assignment in the department.
Still, we can't help but think things might have turned out differently.
We have speculated before on whether Hurtt would look better if he rocked a beard.
It would certainly mellow him out a bit.