Houston to spend $150K to defend police beard ban
May 29, 2008
City officials are apparently willing to dig deep to defend the police department's ban on beards.
The Houston City Council on Wednesday unanimously authorized spending up to $150,000 to defend the city in a lawsuit challenging the no-facial hair policy.
"The lawsuit is pending and we have to defend ourselves," Councilman Ron Green said. "But we're basically saying we want new police officers, but we don't want police officers with beards."
Four police officers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in November claiming the policy is discriminatory. The officers say the prohibition on beards and goatees is unfair for men who suffer a skin condition that reacts negatively to shaving. The condition can cause severe irritation, rashes and ingrown hair.
The police department instituted the policy in 1993 so uniformed officers would look conservative and professional, according to a city memo.
Officers said the policy unfairly effects their earning potential, both within the department and at secondary jobs.
"If I work an extra job in a dangerous area, I look like a security guard," Sgt. Shelby Stewart.