WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Since November, many Wichita police officers have been sporting goatees and extra facial hair, which is against the rules.
The rules were bent for a good cause to raise money for local non-profits, but it could become a permanent lifestyle for officers in the near future.
“Some guys just like to wear facial hair, and it is something we are not allowed to do per our policy,” says officer Anthony Villegas.
However, when you step inside Anthony Villegas’s patrol car you’ll see him sporting a goatee.
“The approachability and the relatability are increased and that is obviously one of the perks I suppose of having facial hair visibly,” Villegas said.
Villegas and several other officers are taking advantage of the current “Fear the Beard February.” It started with No-Shave November, where officers could donate $20 and grow their hair out. That money would then be donated to a non-profit. Since then, the department has found a new name for every month following to continue the trend. While that may be temporary, Villegas is the author of a new beard bill that the department is proposing to make the style long term.
“As different departments nationwide change their policies to try to bring them more talent or more applicants, we have to realize that those changes are being made, and we have to adapt and change our policies to reflect that,” said Villegas.
It’s still a clean-cut process. In the proposal, he has written no beard could be more than half an inch, no neck hair, and the beard, or goatee, would have to have clean and defined lines.
“I think it brings us a little bit closer to the people that we serve,” he said.
Officer Villegas says after the department allowed tattoos last year they got more applicants during a time when recruiting can be difficult. He says the more officers who are allowed to express themselves professionally opens the door to a growing number of applicants.
“They call us when they need us. Either way, they want us to be there and so it is just another way to show I am just like you,” Villegas said.