Should police officers get the all-clear to grow beards?

Should police officers get the all-clear to grow beards?

Do you ever not want to go to work because you’re tired of the commute? We’ve sure been there. Well, imagine having to shave your face every morning. That's even more tiring than a commute. Trust us. Say it takes 10 minutes a day to shave, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year – that’s 2,600 minutes a year wasted – or approximately 2 days a year down the drain… to shave what would have been a beard. Yet, that’s exactly what some of our boys in blue deal with daily.

The right of police officers to wear beards has been hotly debated among law enforcement agencies, jurisprudence experts, and even the general public. Some argue that facial hair has no place in a professional setting and that it goes against the standard of a well-groomed professional look. “Beards can make officers look undisciplined,” one unnamed officer said when asked about allowing beards. “We don’t want to be seen as a bunch of scruffy-looking criminals.”

Others contend that beard freedom could help decorum, enhance cultural and ethnic acceptance, and even improve morale among officers. As the debate continues and more departments are allowing officers to wear beards, it is important to consider the benefits of more bearded boys in blue.

Those in favor often focus on personal choice and freedom. Well, no surprise, Sir Beard is on the side of freedom. We think it’s time to put the beard or no beard argument to rest and suggest a few reasons why police should be allowed to rock a beard.

First and foremost, police officers should be able to wear beards because it is a matter of personal and religious freedom. A beard symbolizes faith for some religious people and should be respected. However, for many police departments, a beard is strictly prohibited. This prohibition limits religious freedom and prevents officers from freely expressing their faith.

It is also a matter of personal choice. Some officers may feel uncomfortable or constrained if they are not allowed to grow a beard. In addition, some people may prefer the look of facial hair. Many officers find beards to be a source of pride, and not allowing them to express themselves in such a way could negatively affect their morale.

Lubbock Police Department in Lubbock, TX changed its beard policy in 2017. "The response was almost immediate, right after the policy came out, you saw a lot of officers starting on a beard, and a lot of them have kept their beards, some have shaved," Assistant Chief Neal Barron said. "And [the bearded officers] look good, they're neatly trimmed, I think they look sharp." Barron wanted officers to be more approachable and encourage more people to apply to the department. "We have to stay competitive as far as our ability to attract applicants, and when other police departments do things to make themselves more competitive to make their policies less restrictive, in regards to facial hair and things like that, we have to keep up," Barron said.

Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that a properly trimmed beard would hinder an officer’s ability to do his or her job. Many police officers have served while wearing beards without any adverse effects. In addition, a properly trimmed beard does not obstruct an officer’s view or equipment, such as a gas mask or respirator. 

Also, it can be more comfortable for some to wear a beard. While some officers may not have any issue with the close shave necessary to adhere to policy, growing facial hair could be a more comfortable option. This is especially true during extreme temperatures; in hot weather, facial hair can help keep the face and neck out of the sun; in cold weather, a beard can provide insulation to keep them warm and comfortable.

In addition, a beard can make an officer look more mature and authoritative. For those green-behind-the-ears officers, this gives them a good option to present a more mature look, which can be a plus when they are trying to gain respect and build relationships with older force members or members of their community. Also, keeping a neatly groomed beard is a form of self-expression that allows officers to show their unique style while still adhering to the necessary guidelines. 

Finally, allowing officers to wear beards could be beneficial to some groups. As mentioned above, certain religions require men to maintain a beard, and not having the option to do so could make it difficult for them to adhere to the rules of the job and their faith. Therefore, from an inclusive perspective, officers should be allowed to wear beards.

All in all, there are benefits to allowing officers to maintain a beard as part of their uniform. It could be more comfortable, provide a more mature and authoritative look, and benefit minority groups. It is time for law enforcement agencies to recognize these benefits and update their policies. And ultimately, it should be the officer’s choice to wear a beard. As long as it does not impede their ability to do their job, officers should be able to wear beards if they choose to do so. This would ensure that religious and personal freedom are respected and that officers can express themselves freely, which is one of Sir Beard’s core beliefs. 

Signing off with one of Sir Beard's favorite quotes on police beard freedom from Sheriff Javier Salazar: "Times and attitudes have evolved. The true measure of a professional is not what they have on their face or arms, but how well they serve their community."

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1 comment

Awesome read! Team beards here.

The one

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