HANCOCK COUNTY — It’s been a scratchy few weeks for some local police, but they’ve braved discomfort for a good cause.
More than 70 officers from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Greenfield Police Department and Fortville Police Department have grown beards this month while handing over dollars for a good cause.
They raised about $1,600 for charity by participating in No Shave November, a national fundraising campaign that encourages men to grow facial hair while donating money to cancer prevention efforts, research or to help those fighting the disease.
Each of the participating police departments has strict rules about facial hair. Officers are typically allowed to keep mustaches or goatees, but they must be kept short and cleanly trimmed.
This month, though, their bosses gave officers special permission to break the rules and grow out facial hair, so long as they report to work Dec. 1 clean-shaven, organizers said.
The roughly five weeks officers have forgone shaving brought about a lot of the laughter in addition to donations, said Sgt. Missy Wilcher, who works in the Hancock County Jail and helped organize the sheriff’s department’s effort.
Wilcher, a supervisor within the facility, said she approached Sheriff Mike Shepherd for permission for her officers to participate in No Shave November after hearing some of the male officers she oversees talking about wanting to grow beards. And they were willing to fork over some money to do it, she said.
With Shepherd’s blessing, about 30 of the sheriff’s department’s officers, including deputies on road patrol, jail officers and courthouse security, donated $20 at the start of the month to participate, raking in more than $600, Wilcher said.
Now, it’s commonplace to hear a competitive tone in officers’ voices as they compare their beards to others, and that has made No Shave November enjoyable for everyone, even the women on the force, she said.
“It’s been a real morale boost for the guys,” Wilcher said. “They’ve been challenging each other to see who can grow (the longer beard). It’s fun to listen to them go back and forth.”
Greenfield and Fortville officers each paid $1 for every day they came to work with a beard, organizers said. About 30 Greenfield officers and a dozen Fortville officers participated for the most of the month, raising more than $1,000 together.
Fortville Police Chief Bill Knauer said his department is always eager to give back to the community it protects. Participating in No Shave November was an easy way to do that, and he’s sure the department will do something similar again next year.
Officers who took part in the fundraising say they enjoyed rallying together for a good cause and giving back; a portion of the money raised will be given to a local family battling cancer. Cancer touches many lives in the community, and going a few weeks with a little scruff was worth it to help others, they say — even if their loved ones are ready for smooth faces again.
“My wife keeps asking when November is going to be over,” Steven Leonard, who works courthouse security for the sheriff’s department, said with a laugh. “She’s ready for me to shave this thing.”