Crumb catchers. Muttonchops. Lip sweaters. Face fur.
Whatever you choose to call men’s facial hair, it’s not something you expect to see growing wildly on University of Toledo Police Department officers. Their policy: Officers always must appear clean-shaven while on duty, with the only exception being a neatly trimmed ’stache no longer than the lips.And yet, during the entire month of November, you may have noticed some stubbly growth, including chin whiskers of varying lengths, on 21 of UT’s 25 police officers.
“It all began three years ago here at UT in support of No Shave November — a movement now popular among police departments nationwide that helps to raise funds to fight cancer,” explained 15-year UTPD veteran, Sgt. Daniel Protsman. “The goal is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose.”
“We encourage our officers to connect and identify with those whom we serve,” Jeff Newton, director of public safety and chief of police, said. “And most of us know someone who has or will be affected by cancer; we can raise awareness together and fight to find a cure. This activity is one way UTPD can achieve all of these goals.”
Once UTPD officers cleared No Shave November with their department’s leadership, they decided participants must contribute $20 to grow a goatee or $30 to grow a full beard. Mustaches could be worn free of charge, since they’re routinely allowed, albeit they could be grown longer during November.
“Instead of paying for grooming supplies, participants donate that money to charity,” said UT Police Deputy Chief Rodney Theis. “Whose family or friends haven’t been touched by cancer? This is a great way for our police officers to have a little fun while also giving back to our community.”
“Often when people come into contact with the police, it may be a negative situation — their apartment has been broken into, they’ve been pulled over for speeding or are being fined for another type of infraction,” Protsman said. “No Shave November helps officers to appear a little more approachable.
“It also helps us to build an even stronger bond among our own team members as we compete to see who can grow the most hair — an opportunity we don’t get to do any other time of the year, unless we have an extended vacation,” Protsman added.
If you think wiry whiskers on police officers are humorous, consider this: No Shave November originally began in 2009 when a Chicago family of eight siblings lost their dad to colon cancer and started the unique fundraiser. Since then, more than $2 million has been raised nationally for cancer awareness, research and support.
Closer to home, last month UTPD officers raised nearly $700 through No Shave November, with a few nonparticipating colleagues also chipping in to support the cause. Additionally, female officers got involved by wearing pink T-shirts to help raise cancer awareness.
All proceeds from UTPD’s No Shave November will be included in this year’s UT Community Charitable Campaign (UTC3) and specifically have been designated to support the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
If you would like to support this or another charity of your choice, join the UTC3 campaign by completing your ePledge form, available in weekly emails from Dr. Michele Soliz, assistant vice president for student success and inclusion, who is the UTC3 2017 chair.
For more information, visit utoledo.edu/utc3.