MANCHESTER, NH — First, it was a change in the Manchester Police Department’s tattoo policy. Now, it’s the beards.
But before anyone thinks Chief Nick Willard is going soft, he wants to explain why he’s joining his officers in sporting the grizzled look — Beards for Bucks is for a limited time, to support a truly worthy cause.
“You know, I start out my first day on the job allowing tattoos, and now I’m letting my officers walk around with beards,” said Willard, with a knowing smile.
Just as the tattoos were a way to relax the existing regulations to recognize that many worthy police officer candidates were previously turned away for body ink that, often, related to their service with the armed forces, Willard is easing up on the facial hair regulations to draw some much-needed attention to the city’s Child Advocacy Center.
The revised beard policy for the month of October is a short-term solution to an ongoing need — fundraising to support the vital work of the CAC.
Here’s how it works: Participating officers — and so far there are more than 100 — donate a minimum of $30, although most of them started with $50, says Willard. Then, whenever someone stops to ask them what’s up with the extended five-o’clock shadow, they simply hand over an information card with donation information — citizens can donate on their own, or in the name of one of the participating officers, creating a bit of a competition: the officer who raises the most money for CAC earns a “chief’s day off” with pay, and a suite next spring at the Fisher Cats/Delta Dental Stadium.
Willard is exempting himself from being eligible for the prizes, but he’s happy to lead by bearded example, and says he already feels like he’s winning, based on the enthusiastic support from his officers.
“The beards are just a fun way to bring awareness to CAC and raise funds for a deserving organization — the work they do is so important, and spend a lot of time fundraising. They’ve done well over 300 forensic interviews for our department already this year,” Willard said.
Although his female officers aren’t able to join in the beard competition, Willard said all his officers find ways — some obvious and some under the radar — to give back to the community every chance they get.
“They make me proud every day,” Willard said.
Click this link or the button below to support the Manchester Police Department’s effort by selecting your “favorite” officer and making a much-needed donation today.
About NH CACs: New Hampshire’s Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) is a statewide network that supports child victims of physical and sexual abuse, as well as children who are witness to violent crimes. The centers support these children in the early stages of criminal investigations by offering forensic interview services and by helping connect their families and them to the important community resources.
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