Pittsfield Police can now have beards -- as long as they are neatly trimmed


PITTSFIELD -- There won't be any Serpico looks for officers not working undercover, but a Pittsfield Police Department manual update will soon allow policemen to sport well-trimmed beards.

Chief Michael J. Wynn said Friday he has inserted language on beards in the department Manual of Rules and Regulations as part of a revision of the document.

"During a review of the manual in 2011, beards didn't come up," Wynn said. "But immediately after, officers started asking if they could be allowed. I said you'll have to wait for the next review in two years."

While facial hair will now be allowed in the department of 70 uniform officers and detectives, that doesn't mean Old West or circa 1900 New York police handlebar mustaches, the chief said.

"Neatly trimmed" is the salient description in the manual.

Wynn said he also added more clarifying detail to the section on grooming for male officers as part of the revision.

The section on beards reads in part: "If a beard and/or mustache is worn, it shall be groomed and neatly trimmed at all times in order not to present a ragged appearance. Full and partial beards (goatees) are authorized, but patchy, spotty clumps of facial hair are not considered beards and as such are not permitted."

Referring to beards, mustaches and sideburns, the new section specifies that "new growth must be started at the beginning of at least two consecutive days off." That, Wynn said, is to discourage a stubble look, which might remind some of "Miami Vice" or other cop shows.

"Sporting scruff, by trimming a mustache, goatee or beard closer than one quarter inch, is not allowed," the manual states.

Facial hair also must be no more than three-quarters of an inch, according to the rules, and "the bulk of the beard (distance that the mass of facial hair protrudes from the skin of the face) shall not exceed one-half inch."

Wynn said police departments in Boston and other Massachusetts communities have, for several years, approved beards.

The chief said "maybe three or four officers" have indicated they want to grow a beard.

Existing manual sections pertaining to grooming for police include those on earrings or studs, fingernails and polish, hairstyles for females, wigs or hairpieces, tattoos and body art, jewelry and the use of cosmetics.

General topics in the manual include acceptance of gifts, political activities, secondary employment, associations, and professional and private conduct.

The revised police manual also includes language previously included specifying that there is a chain of command within the department but not in the 2011 version. Wynn said it was determined the wording on chain of command should be specified.

The manual revisions will come before the City Council for review at its meeting Tuesday.

To reach Jim Therrien:
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