No, none of them will look like “Duck Dynasty” cast.
But yes, some male Gastonia police officers now wear facial hair.
In the past few years, beards and mustaches were only allowed in special fundraising campaigns such as “No Shave November” or “Double Down December”.
Around the holidays, officials were allowed to grow facial hair after donating a certain amount to a charity that supported the department.
But after Santa Claus flew back to the North Pole and the calendar sheet indicated a new year, those newly grown whiskers went into the sink.
One of the changes Chief Travis Brittain made after taking office late last year was to loosen up politics and allow for “manicured” beards and mustaches.
When asked about the reason for the change, Brittain replied: “Why not?”
“Does it make the officer less respected?” he went on. “Does it in any way change the officer’s training or moral character? No, but it might make him seem a little more approachable, a little more personable to the people he is dealing with.”
Brittain said since the policy change, the number of bearded officers in the department has ranged from a third to half the force on any given day.
“Some guys grow a beard for a while, get fed up and come back to shave,” he said. “The important thing is that you now have an option.”
“When a detective is out on a case all night and runs home to shower, he doesn’t have to worry about having to shave when he’s in a rush,” added Brittain.
“But by and large,” he concluded. “You appreciated it. You accepted it.”
The dress code and appearance of the department, which has 14 printed pages, explicitly goes into uniforms, tattoos, and facial hair, but Brittain boiled beards to two words: “Neat and trimmed”.
A couple of exceptions?
“In the event of a civil emergency with the possibility of gas deployment, SWAT team members, members of the crisis negotiation team, members of the bomb team and / or tactical officers, at the discretion of the chief of operations, must report shaved.”
“If an officer is a member of the honor guard, he must report to an event shaved clean.”
Brittain, who grew his whiskers during No Shave November, has had his razor handy since his promotion to chief.
Could that change in the future?
“Probably not,” he replied. “Unless it’s part of some kind of fundraiser. But we will see.
Bill Poteat, who was last shaven clean in the summer of 1977, can be reached at 704-869-1855 or [email protected]