Cops celebrate city's birthday

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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The Lincoln Police Department has gotten itself into a hairy situation. To raise awareness of Lincoln’s 150th birthday, officers from Chief of Police Brian Vizzusi on down are growing goatees, according to Community Services Officer Paul Tyler. Normally, growing a goatee is against the department’s regulations, and the goatee-growing, which began June 29, will last 150 days. “It’s something that’s just been around a while, and the military has similar guidelines,” Tyler said. “The general reason for that is just to project a clean, professional image.” Tyler said there are a number of officers who would like to grow a goatee – himself included. “I had one for years,” Tyler said. “Then I came to the police department, and there was a different set of rules. I like having one, personally. I do think you need to keep it trimmed up and clean.” Though chiefly to raise awareness of the city’s 150th birthday, the goatees will also be graded in a competition. According to Tyler, there are four categories goatees will be judged on: best-groomed and shaped, grayest, sparsest and most-improved look – that is, which officer looks better with a goatee than without. One of the participants is Officer Chris Randall. “I think it’s great,” Randall said. “I know a lot of officers have been wanting to grow them out, and several other agencies in the state allow it.” So far, Randall said he has not heard a single negative comment from the public or any other officers about the goatees. “My goal is to hopefully be able to keep them after the 150 days,” Randall said. Though it’s a competition, Randall denies going after any of the titles. “I’m just trying to keep mine within the proper guidelines.” Lt. Paul Shelgren is also growing out his facial hair. “It’s something that’s fun to do, and it shows a little spirit and a little camaraderie among the officers,” Shelgren said. The Lincoln Police Department’s officers used to participate in the Whiskerino facial hair contest for the Fourth of July in years past, according to Shelgren, so the current competition brings back memories. “There’s two sides to it,” Shelgren said. “Some thoughts are that we’re a quasi-military organization, and there’s no place for it. On the other hand, we have elected officials who grow goatees, and there are several agencies in Placer County that allow their officers to wear goatees on patrol.” Police will use this competition to gauge public opinion on whether officers can wear goatees, and they might be allowed to continue wearing them after the 150 days are over. As for an award, Shelgren said he isn’t trying for any, but, “I’ll probably get hung with the grayest and the ugliest or something like that.” For a sample of public opinion on whether officers should be allowed to wear goatees, see Streetwise on page A5. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at