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November 21, 2013

’Stash cash for cancer

Greene County law enforcement paying to grow fuzz this month

----- — If you’re speeding, literally, through Greene County this month and get pulled over, don’t be surprised if the police officer standing at your car window looks a little scruffy in the facial hair category.

Law enforcement officials all across the southern Hoosier county are nicking away at cancer this month by giving their electric razors and disposable blades a break. They are taking part in No-Shave November, a web-based effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

“It feels like I have a wool sweater on my face at all times,” said Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw, who has been growing a reddish beard since Nov. 1. He is keeping his beard trimmed for a more professional look, but most police officers are following the No-Shave November tradition of letting their beards grow wild.

The officers are donating a dollar a day to take part in No-Shave November. If they decide they can’t take it any more and shave off their beards, they must pay $45, said Paul Clark, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 105 north of Linton.

There is one female participant in the county – but she, understandably, has chosen to remain anonymous, Clark said.

Police departments up and down Greene County are setting aside their blades. The Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the public defenders office and the prosecutor’s office are also avoiding their razors.

Usually, police officers are required to keep their facial hair orderly. Their mustaches typically can’t dip below the corners of their mouths and their sideburns can’t grow longer than the middle of their ears, said Andrew Druguay, a Jasonville police officer who is sporting a three-week growth to fight cancer. His wife, he said, is looking forward to December.

“Grooming standards have had to be relaxed,” Clark said.

The public has been overwhelmingly supportive of the effort, although a few people have looked askance at bearded police officers, Clark said.

Early next month, the Greene County’s law enforcement community expects to present a check to the American Cancer Society for a couple of thousand dollars, Clark said. The effort was really not supposed to get any attention outside of the police stations, he said. But, thanks to a few media stories, it has really taken off. As a result, next year they may try to raise even more money.

“There’s no one whose life hasn’t, in some way, been affected by cancer,” Clark said. A retired Greene County officer is currently fighting the disease, he said. The check to the ACS will be presented in his name, he said.

In the meantime, police in Greene County are enjoying the fundraiser, which has given officers from different departments a chance to get to know each other better by laughing about their shared experience, Clark said. Many complain of how beards get caught in polyester uniforms, for example.

“This is as long as my hair has been since I was a kid in high school,” said Clark, who is also forgoing shaving his head. “It’s crazy. I have to use shampoo!”

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