Cause just grows on you
Half of Urbana police force participating in 'No Shave November'
URBANA — A couple dozen police officers are loosening up on their uniform rules for a month during "No Shave November," and putting the razor away for a good cause.
The Urbana police union president, Officer Dan Bailey, said the group has raised about $1,100 for the American Cancer Society so far — and they've raised awareness about a well-trimmed beard.
No Shave November is gaining traction as a popular money-raising scheme in the name of cancer, and it runs alongside "Movember," an effort where men spend the month growing mustaches to raise awareness about men's health issues.
That's how it got started last year, Bailey said. Urbana police are allowed to grow mustaches, but not full beards.
"Last year, there were a few of us that grew mustaches," Bailey said. "Kind of as a joke thing, but in the same line as No Shave November."
This year, department brass said they would ease up on the uniform rules for a month, as long as the participating officers keep their facial hair well-trimmed.
Bailey said he still gets a few "sideways glances" from residents who see him on the street, but they get it after he explains.
"You explain what it's for, for a cancer charity, and everyone so far has been very supportive," Bailey said.
Participating officers each gave a $25 donation, including some who chose not to grow beards, and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70 is matching that number. Bailey said about half the department is participating.
Matt Rivers, an investigator and Boston Red Sox fan, is growing a beard much like his favorite baseball players who won the World Series in October.
"It's neat," Rivers said. "It's neat for people, and of course with the cold weather, people really appreciate it."
There are some practical problems. Officers must keep their razors in their lockers in case they have to respond to a hazardous materials incident and need chemical masks to fit tight against their face. In that case, they will have to shave quickly before they go out, Rivers said.
They have to keep it neatly trimmed, too. Department supervisors were willing to waive the facial hair rule as long as it is not out of control.
And for the record, at the midpoint of the month, there's no clear winners for best and worst facial hair.
"It's a little early," Rivers said.