No Shave November ends for China Grove Police
Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2013
China Grove Police Officer Reese Helms had several goals in mind when he approached Police Chief Eddie Kluttz about supporting Movember/No Shave November.
Helms said he wanted the officers to help raise public awareness of the need for men’s health checks, especially prostate and testicular cancers. These are also the goals of Movember, a worldwide organization that provides health education through flyers, newspaper ads and research. However, Helms had a few more things in mind.
One major goal was to get the townspeople talking to the officers.
“We want to be seen as approachable. I think this part of No Shave November was a huge success,” Helms said. “We had over 10,000 hits on our Facebook page, about three times as many citizens as we have in China Grove. Everybody seemed to rally behind us, even the town board.”
Officer Jeremy Thomason added, “A lot of people asked why, and we told them our points about men’s health. Some would donate to the program, but the biggest thing was that they talked to us.”
Townspeople and interested parties made donations on us.movember.com by clicking the “Donate” tab and searching for CGPD, then choosing their favorite officer.
“We seldom get to have fun, and this seemed like an opportunity to have a good time with something important. Because we were having fun, we built a new level of camaraderie here at the department. Facial hair very seldom exists in the military style of police departments, and we caught some humorous flack and more than one odd look when our beards started to develop.”
Officer Andrew Roland was caught in a tough situation this past week when his father, T.B. Rowland, retired from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. Andrew Roland said, “He gave me a fit. My dad was totally against us growing facial hair, and he let me know it. He didn’t want me to wear my uniform at his retirement dinner because I had grown a beard.”
A few others caught a little grief at home. Officer Steven Wood said, “My wife Christine was against it. I got no enthusiasm at home, whatsoever! She has been ready for December 1st so I could shave since we started.”
Town administrators were very supportive of Helms’ plan to draw attention to the officers. Town Manager Ken Deal grew his own beard, but won’t keep it. He said, “I am ready to shave this thing, it has been a long month.”
As one might expect there were several incidents of real humor during the month. Officer David Lambert jumped out to a quick lead with a full beard within three weeks, and was projected as the early winner. However, Lambert couldn’t follow through. He said, “I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was just plain uncomfortable. So I shaved it off early. That was a conversation starter in itself.” Lambert was told that he couldn’t handle it, like the real men in the department.
Officer Jeff Alley found that growing a beard was a real timesaver. He said, “I had so much time in the morning that I didn’t know what to do. Shaving takes a lot longer than I realized. One morning I went out and started my car for work just because I had nothing else to do.”
All agreed that the top comment of the month about department facial hair came from a crime suspect. He said, “You can’t arrest me. You aren’t a real policeman, and you can’t arrest me because you have a beard.”
Participating officers had earlier planned to have a shave-off at the South End Barber Shop, across the street from the China Grove Town Hall. The barber shop is closed till Tuesday, so all officers will shave independently and be back to their normal clean-shaven faces by Monday morning.
Helms and the other officers had the full support of Chief Kluttz, who advocates community outreach as a part of their jobs. Helms added, “I think we all had a great adventure. We tried to get the Salisbury Police to join us. They immediately said no. I think we will do this again next year, and we will try to get other agencies onboard. The big cities like Charlotte and Raleigh do it, and everyone here is a good sport about Movember/No Shave November. Our main goal was to get people talking about men’s health awareness, but we obviously were able to do much more than that. We count the program as a big success.”