South Bend Police Dept. reconsiders ban on beards

Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 4:28 PM EST
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The South Bend Police Department is taking a long hard look at how officers look.

For decades the department has banned officers from growing beards and goatees, and they've regulated the length of mustaches.

The ban was temporarily lifted in October as a means of raising money to fight breast cancer. The rule continued to be bent through “No Shave November” and will be waived through the end of March, at which time the policy will be formally reconsidered.

“We had several officers, through the FOP, sit down and express that maybe it’s not a bad idea to do the beard thing. As you can see, I’m trying it out myself just to see how it goes,” said Chief Scott Ruszkowski through his newly acquired whiskers. “We've had a lot of positive feedback from our community, that a lot don't care one way or the other. And I understand; you call 911, you want to see a police car there. They really don't care what that person looks like. On the flip side, there are some of our older residents, my parents included, that are not happy with the beard look. They don't think it’s police-ish.”

One potential problem did come up during SWAT training. Some beards prevented officers from getting a proper seal while using respirators.

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