If you notice a Monroe Township police officer sporting a moustache or beard this month, don’t worry, they’re not out of regulations.
They’re doing it for charity.
The name of the movement is “Movember,” or “No Shave November,” and it is meant to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide and mental health. For a $25 donation, a Monroe Township police officer can grow out their facial hair with the proceeds going toward those issues.
“The theory behind that is the money you would spend shaving that month would be put toward the charity,” Police Chief James DeHart said.
This includes retired officers, too. A $25 donation is given to Monroe Township Fraternal of Police Lodge 125 and will in turn be donated to a charity specializing in men’s health, such as one benefiting prostate cancer research. DeHart added a local business, Century Water, will match the agency’s donation up to $1,500 as well.
“I think it’s good for the department to give back to the community, give back to different charities that we support,” he said. “Obviously last month doing breast cancer awareness supports the female community, and this month doing ‘No Shave November’ supports prostate cancer research.”
While there is no prostate cancer awareness charity named, the agency knows it will split the donation between that and the Captain Buscio program through Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Burlington County.
“Most law enforcement officers die of cardiac (issues), or have cardiac issues and health-related problems,” DeHart said. “That’s a program that helps first responders, checks them and tests to make sure their cardiac health is in good shape.”
Last month, the department sold pink shirts and the FOP made a donation toward breast cancer research. DeHart said his officers wore pink shirts and pins in support.
This month he has 50 officers participating in Movember, including female officers sporting fake beards in support of their male brethren.
“Emergency response is a very diverse community with a lot of women getting into the services,” DeHart noted. “I just want to recognize everybody, not trying to pick one side or another. We’re trying to share the wealth. Cancer touches so many people in our agency and everywhere. There are different ways to address men and women’s health.”
According the the Movember website, www.Movember.com, it has funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects since 2003 and raised more than $700 million dollars in that same time frame. The website boasts its goal to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25 percent by 2030. Its action plan is to give men the facts, change behavior for the better, create services that work for men, unite the brightest minds and listen to the community and advocate for men.
While generating money for a good cause is important, building camaraderie between his officers is equally as important, according to DeHart.
“It’s great camaraderie for the department, too,” he said. “We’re giving to something else. Something that may have affected some of us, it may not have. We’re coming together to support a common cause and I like to think we’re showing the public the human side of the uniform. Everything is not just the militaristic approach.”