In 2005, Police Chief Harold Hurtt issued a strict "no-beard policy" so that officers would be safe while wearing gas masks during an emergency response. The plaintiffs, who have beards, filed the lawsuit after they were only assigned to duties that required them to wear plainclothes. Attorneys for the three officers say - beard or no beard - the masks issued to the officers will not protect them from toxic fumes.
Attorney Warren Fitzgerald said, "If one of these officers or anyone on the police force finds themselves in a toxic event that is dangerous to life or health, this mask -- the Scott Mask Pro 40 -- will be of no use."
The three African American HPD officers say they suffer from a severe skin disorder after shaving.