All comparisons to Kenny Loggins aside, a Seymour police officer loves the beard he has been sporting for No Shave November.
It has been 48 days since Cpl. Jason Alberring has felt the scrape of a razor against the side of his face.
He is letting his facial hair grow through the last day of the year, and not a day sooner, he said, with permission and encouragement from Chief Bill Abbott.
Alberring was one of 30 of the force’s 40 officers who donated $25 for the opportunity to grow a beard, mustache or goatee. The department has a strict policy in place that prevents officers from having long hair, beards and visible tattoos.
“You have to be clean shaven. That’s been a rule for 100 years,” Abbott said. But many officers would like to be able to change that, he added.
Abbott requested and received approval from the city’s board of public works and safety in October to waive the policy for officers wanting to grow out their facial hair for a short time.
No Shave November typically is a monthlong national campaign used as a way for men to grow awareness and raise funds to support cancer prevention, research and education.
Seymour officers got a head start, beginning Oct. 15, and some will continue to let it grow through Dec. 31. They also had another cause in mind they wanted to support with the funds collected.
The money the department has raised, $750 total, will go to help fund Project Lifesaver in Seymour.
Project Lifesaver is a national program that equips law enforcement with the technology to quickly locate children or adults with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, autism, dementia or Down syndrome who may have wandered away from home or their caregivers.
Citizens enrolled in Project Lifesaver wear a small personal transmitter around the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If an enrolled client goes missing, the caregiver notifies a Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained team responds to the wanderer’s area. Most who wander are located within a few miles from home, and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes.
Each transmitter costs $350, and the receivers are $1,100. Seymour would like to start the program with around 15 people.
The idea for the fundraiser was suggested by veteran officer Tim Toborg, who said he was aware of other police departments that have done similar things or that have different policies allowing facial hair.
He said the biggest reason he wants facial hair is because he can’t have it. That was a common sentiment among the other officers, too.
“A lot of people have been shocked because they’re just not used to seeing us like this,” Abbott said.
Some officers chipped in the money without growing beards just because they wanted to support the cause or because they don’t have much luck growing facial hair, Abbott said.
Others have already shaved them off because they itched or because they made them look too old.
“Most of us have a lot of gray now,” Abbott said. “And it was just a reminder of our age.”
Although he has had to trim it up some, Alberring said he’s pretty happy with how his beard has grown in and wishes he could keep it longer.
“I’d pay $100 to keep it all year,” he said. “My wife likes it, and I’ve heard nothing but positive comments.”
At first, there was just going to be one officer allowed to do it, but interest spread quicker than a 5 o’clock shadow.
This year was a way to try No Shave November to see if it would be a successful fundraiser, Abbott said.
“By Jan. 1, their faces better be clean,” he said of letting things get hairy year-round. “But I definitely think we’ll do it again next year.”