Law enforcement challenge to not shave during October
In an effort to show support for those who have battled breast cancer, and to bring awareness to the disease that is expected to claim 40,290 lives in the U.S. in 2015, local law enforcement officers are putting away their razors for the remainder of the month.
During October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Precinct 2 Jefferson County Constable Christopher Bates has challenged other law enforcement to participate in “Beards for Breast Cancer,” a unique program that allows officers to grow facial hair during the month with their department’s blessing.
Bates said he had looked for a way to bring awareness to breast cancer and hit upon the idea because he thought it would be an attention getter.
“People are not used to seeing beards on police officers because most departments don’t allow facial hair,” he said.
Those participating will be allowed to grow their beards for a donation of at least $10. Proceeds will benefit the Gift of Life Program.
The donation can be dedicated to a friend, loved one, or an officer can just participate without a dedication.
Those who would prefer not to grow their beards can still participate simply by making a donation.
“This collaboration will show great solidarity among our law enforcement,” Bates said.
Bates has sent out an e-mail to all law enforcement groups in Jefferson County, and already the response has been positive, he said.
Departments from numerous police agencies have already agreed to participate, Bates said.
Among those is Nederland, where Chief Darrell Bush is leading the charge among the city’s police department.
Bush said he plans to grow a beard — something he has not done since he had four weeks off from work 20 years ago.
“We’ve made an exception to the policy for this event,” Bush said. “I think anything we can do to help support this Gift of Life Foundation, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, anything that will help draw support from others in the community is worthwhile.”
So far, he said, the response from his officers has been good.
“The ones I have talked to want to participate whether they grow a beard or just make a donation,” he said.
Bates has a jumpstart on the officers since he already sports facial hair.
‘I had one already, been growing it since June 18, so decided to be a poster child for the whole thing.”
When he first started growing his beard, Bates said, it was a bit uncomfortable, but in a short time he didn’t even notice.
“It’s just part of my uniform now,” he said.
Bates said he is dedicating his beard, and his contribution, to his cousin Barbara Bryant, a breast cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy.
“It is unique to see an officer with a beard, so I hope many will participate and bring awareness to breast cancer,” Bates said.