City to hire attorney in facial hair fight

May 28, 2008 4:35:28 PM PDT
The Houston city council has decided to spend $150,000 to hire an outside attorney to help in the defense of a lawsuit filed by a group of police officers. The officers are suing HPD over its grooming policy, which prevents them from having facial hair.

Ever since HPD Chief Harold Hurtt put forth the policy, some officers have claimed a health condition prevents them from shaving their facial hair. Chief Hurtt has kept those officers in the department, but out of uniform.

Some of those officers filed a lawsuit, claiming the policy is unfair. They say they can still perform all functions of being an officer, including wearing a gas mask when necessary, with facial hair.

The city council has decided t to spend $150,000 to hire outside council to defend itself against this lawsuit.

"What this issue will do is take away the right of African American males on the police department," said Sgt. Shelby Stewart with the Houston Police Dapartment. "That's what it is in a nutshell."

"We've been discussing this and I have some concern. I'm not sure which way I'm going to fall out on this because I see a lot of concern on both sides," said Councilmember Melissa Noreiga.

The controversy will continue for now. The lawsuit will go forward and Chief Hurtt is holding firm on his policy.

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