The Mercer Island Police Department is participating in “Movember,” a month-long awareness campaign in which particpants grow facial hair for the month of November and raise funds for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.
This year the MIPD command is allowing officers to grow beards as well as mustaches, which they were previously limited to. Police departments typically adhere to military grooming standards, but MIPD has gotten more lax with the standards as far as facial hair and tattoos.
“This year they’re allowing us to have a full beard which is kind of cool — my wife’s a big fan of that,” Officer Todd Roggenkamp said. “That’s a big change our chief has agreed to this time… We still have to get fit tested for our air masks so we can get a good seal, so nothing out of control, but more than the typical cop moustache.”
Roggenkamp, along with a few of his fellow officers, has spearheaded the MIPD Movember charity since they started participating in 2010, but this year he has seen more support from his command staff. He’s set up a fundraiser for the Movember charity at us.movember.com/team/2331858?mc=14 for donations throughout the month.
The department’s participation in the Movember cancer awareness campaign comes after the MIPD’s participation in the pink patch program and the Mercer Island Fire Department’s participation in a pink shirt campaign for October’s breast cancer awareness month.
While the main focus of the campaign is to raise funds and awareness to support the campaign, several officers are also excited about the opportunity to simply experiment with their looks.
“It kind of gives us the opportunity to express ourselves and feel like the general public,” Roggenkamp said. “Both my arms are fully covered with tattoos and our chief is cool with that as long as it’s not offensive. We’re kind of evolving as a department in a way where things that might not have been allowed in the past are currently becoming more accepted, as long as it doesn’t interfere with our duties of course.”
This also results in officers appearing more approachable in certain circumstances. Roggenkamp said he has never received a negative response to his tattoos or facial hair.
All of Roggenkamp’s donations will go directly towards the Movember Foundation, a men’s health charity that started the awareness campaign in 2003.
The Movember Foundation invests in the TrueNTH project, which focuses on prostate cancer, TrueNTH’s testicular cancer branch and GAP, an international research center dedicated to prostate and testicular cancer.
The foundation previously focused on prostate cancer alone, but has grown to offer support and fundraising for all types of general men’s health.