Saturday, March 8, 2014
If you happen to see a police officer in Oakland, Waterville or Winslow during the next two months sporting a beard, don’t be alarmed.
Officer Jason Longley of the Waterville Police Department.
NO SHAVE NOVEMBER: Winslow Police Department's from left to right, Lt. Josh Veilleux, Ron McGowen, Brandon Lund, Haley Fleming and Chief Jeffrey Fenlason, show off their stubble as they participate in "no shave November" to raise money for the Barbara Bush Childrens Home.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans
It’s for a good cause.
About three dozen officers in those three towns are retiring their razors for November and December in favor of raising money for charities in “No Shave November.” By paying a fee to forgo shaving, the male officers can proudly sport their beards.
“The officers are pretty relieved that they can give their face a break,” said Chief Joseph Massey, of the Waterville Police Department.
The participating officers are donating money to charity in lieu of shaving. Eight Winslow officers and about 15 Oakland officers paid $20 each to give up their razors, with the money going to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. Roughly two dozen Waterville officers are raising money by the beard for the United Way of Mid-Maine.
Growing facial hair for a cause isn’t unique to the police departments. During the past decade, a mustache movement has grown synonymous with the month of November, where men around the world grow a mustache to raise awareness for men’s health in an event called Movember. The departments’ fundraising, however, is independent of the international Movember organization.
Typically, police officers don’t resemble lumberjacks or Red Sox on a roll.
Grooming policies are unique to each department, but police officers are typically beardless, citing professionalism. Besides an occasional mustache, which has grown synonymous with policemen through pop culture, officers rarely sport a full beard.
“Law enforcement officers should give off their best appearances,” Massey said, adding that officers typically don’t grow beard for safety reasons. “If an officer has a long beard, there’s the chance someone could grab it during an altercation.”
Despite most of his staff participating in the fundraiser, Massey said he’s sitting this one out.
“I can’t grow what I consider a neat and trim beard,” he said. “Mine would be patchy and gray.”
The Movember movement
An international Movember, where men grow mustaches to raise money for men’s health issues, has snowballed over the past decade into an international nonprofit organization with more than a million members. Started in 2003 in Australia, friends Travis Garone and Luke Slattery joked about bringing the mustache back in a stylistic sense.
“The first year they did it, it was just 30 guys growing mustaches, there was no cause,” said Doug Prusoff, college engagement manager for Movember. “They realized the growth of the mustache started so many conversations, there was an opportunity to have conversations about something bigger.”
Inspired by what women were doing with breast cancer awareness in October, the men decided to solicit friends to grow a ‘stache while raising money for men’s health awareness — particularly prostate and testicular cancer.
By 2012, the nonprofit organization Movember blossomed into more than 1.1 million members worldwide, raising nearly $450 million for research and awareness. Participants start clean shaven on Nov. 1, soliciting donations throughout the month while they grow a mustache.
“For a lot of people, it’s a fun way to get involved in something that’s serious,” Prusoff said.
Prusoff first heard about Movember during his sophomore year at Lafayette College in Pennslyvannia. A member of the lacrosse team, Prusoff was approached to participate by a teammate.
“I mean, grow a mustache for charity? Why not,” he said. “It seemed like something easy to do. But then I saw some of the health statistics, and it kind of hit home for me.”
According to Movember’s website, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. In 2007, Movember worked with Prostate Cancer Foundation in the U.S. and in 2009, the organization worked with the Livestrong Foundation.
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Detective Josh Woods of the Waterville Police Department.
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Officer Matt Libby of the Waterville Police Department.
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Officer Kris McKenna of the Waterville Police Department.