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News5 Investigates: CSPD veteran officer says she was forced into early retirement over new physical fitness exam

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Barbara Riester has been with the Colorado Springs Police Department for the last 23 years.

Her career ended this year after injuries she claims were sustained as a result of a new physical fitness exam every police officer on the department must take.

“I injured my rotator cuff and tendon that attaches to my bicep,” she said.

Riester and 38-percent of the female force over the age of 40 initially failed the department's new physical abilities exam, also known as PAT.

Officers tell News5 they were told to retake it and pass, or face termination after six months.

12 officers are suing the City of Colorado Springs, hoping the police department will change testing policies and procedures based on age and gender.

Right now, the exam is a “one test fits all” format.

The police department won't comment on the lawsuit, but told News5 in a statement that they support the exam.

The City of Colorado Springs is currently seeking bids for outside legal representation to defend the lawsuit.

Riester is not one of the plaintiffs, but is speaking out because she's unhappy with how the department has handled the testing process.

“To say you want a certain kind of officer and all you're looking at is whether you can do push ups or sit ups is a mistake,” she said.

While all the officers, including the ones suing agree there should be some level of fitness, they say the way the test is implemented puts older women on the force at a disadvantage.

“We couldn't find another police department in the country that was implementing a policy like this one,” attorney Donna Dell 'Olio said. “The tragedy of this policy is that some of the best officers in the city have been taken off the street.”

“If you look at my service record, I don't have any misuse of force complaints from the community at all against me,” Riester said.

News5 Investigates will keep you updated as new information on the lawsuit becomes available.

You can read our previous news coverage on this subject by clicking here.

You can read our first follow-up to this story here.

An attorney representing the 12 female officers says so far, two officers have left the force because of the physical abilities exam. 

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