Regulatory policy

Akron police revise beard policy to help attract and retain officers

Being an Akron police officer might soon get hairier.

The police department has relaxed its grooming rules to allow male officers to grow well-groomed beards and goatee.

The change is part of an effort by Akron and other Ohio law enforcement agencies to review rules and regulations to try to attract and retain more officers.

“This has been identified as something of great interest to potential candidates,” said Lt. Michael Miller, an Akron police spokesman who leads the department’s recruiting. “More and more departments are changing their policies in this regard.”

Chief Charles Chandler of Westerville, who heads the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, agreed law enforcement is looking at ways to make their grooming policies less restrictive. He said this was in response to the growing number of officers resigning or taking early retirement, recruitment challenges and competition between departments for a limited pool of staff.

Akron Police:End of hairy situation for Akron police officers

“There are a lot of non-traditional things that cities and counties and chiefs are looking at to try to recruit and attract to their agencies,” said Chandler, who has served as Columbus’ suburban chief for three and a half years. and an officer for 28 years. .

Chandler said his department allowed officers to grow beards during the winter months as part of a fundraiser for local food banks, but is now taking a closer look at that policy and others.

“It’s something we all talk about,” Chandler said of himself and other chefs. “Uniform or personal appearance policies are hot topics.”

Middletown Police allow officers to display tattoos

The Middletown Police Department, near Cincinnati, recently changed its policy to allow officers to display their tattoos after years of having to cover them up. The ministry announced the change on Facebook, saying it hoped to attract new staff. The post included smiling photos of female officers showing off tattoos on their arms.

“Double HE hockey sticks have frozen and tattoos are now allowed at MPD!” the ministry said in the post. “We try new things.”

Wayne Drummond, Cleveland’s new police chief, recently announced that he would allow police officers to show their tattoos, wear caps and grow beards. He said he hopes these small changes will help improve morale, recruitment and retention.

“You’ll see officers now with beards and tattoos,” Drummond, an officer for over 30 years, told Channel 19 recently. “It’s something I struggled with, to be honest, but I know it’s important.”

Akron already allows officers to display their tattoos as long as they are not above the neck or below the wrist. The department recently used images of tattooed officers on its recruiting posters.

Akron’s grooming rules allowed officers to be clean-shaven or sport a mustache.

An Akron police officer discusses the beard he grew — and was about to have to shave — as part of the department's Winter Whisker campaign in January 2020. Officers were authorized to do grow a beard if they gave $20 a month to local nonprofits.  The agent asked that his name not be used for security reasons.

In recent years, the department has allowed officers to grow beards or goatee during the winter months if they donate $20 a month to a local nonprofit.

Miller said that effort has raised more than $10,000 each winter for local charities, including Victim Assistance, an agency that provides services to victims of crime.

Akron’s new policy allows facial hair with certain restrictions

Under a new temporary policy that took effect on Monday, officers will be allowed to grow beards or goatee goats, with several restrictions, such as keeping them neatly trimmed and having no patterned facial hair.

Officers will not be required to donate to charity in exchange for facial hair growth, though Miller said the department will explore other ways to raise money for local nonprofits.

Chief Steve Mylett endorsed the new policy for a year, with the intention of reviewing it after that time. He said he didn’t plan to grow a beard.

The ministry does not want to leave out female officers. Miller said the chef is looking at how grooming rules for women can also be relaxed. Female officers are currently not permitted to wear their hair longer than the top of the shirt collar or the back of the neck. They can’t wear their hair slicked back, braided or in a ponytail, per policy.

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at [email protected], 330-996-3705 and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.

Akron Police’s New Beard Policy

Agents can: Grow beards or goatees connected to a mustache. They should be cut to a quarter inch or less.

The agent cannot: Have designs in the beard or hair on the neck. Having shaped or styled beards, such as a beard shaped like a chin bar.

Growth time: Agents have one week to demonstrate progress toward facial hair approval. An officer cannot be in a perpetual state of trying to grow a beard.

Mandatory shaving: Officers may be required to shave when the use of a protective mask at work is likely.

Source: Akron Police Department