Westfield officers grow beards for a good cause

(From left) Sgt. John Parish, Ofc. Brendan Irujo, Ofc. Jared Hague, Ofc. Patrick Lusteg, Ofc. Nate Osowski, Lt. Eric Hall and  Ofc. Sean Smith all all grew beards this month to support Shriners Hospital in Springfield. (Photo by Peter Currier)

WESTFIELD- One may have noticed this month that some police officers around Westfield have been sporting beards despite the department’s normal policy of being clean shaven.

Members of the Westfield Police Department, with permission from Chief Lawrence Valliere, are participating in “No Shave November” to benefit Shriners Hospital in Springfield. Beginning on Nov. 1 and ending on Nov. 30, 26 officers oof the city’s police force have chosen to participate while pledging $100 each to Shriners.

Valliere said that some of the officers were inspired to do this after seeing a similar fundraiser being done by the Home Base Program, which provides care to veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a traumatic brain injury. He said that the idea behind allowing the officers to grow beards is that it would evoke conversation, meaning that people simply asking the officers about the sudden beards can start a conversation about Shriners Hospital and its mission. 

Valliere said that some stipulations had to be put in place for the month to make sure nobody’s beards were out of control or unprofessional looking. All beards must be trimmed and shaved along the lower jawline, the neck must be clean shaven to the jaw line, and the main portion of the beard is to be trimmed and neatly groomed, according to a letter sent by Officers Jared Rowe and Zachary Coderre to Valliere. 

While each of the 26 officers who are participating have donated $100, they will also be encouraging others to donate to Shriners as well. Each officer is carrying a business card that they will hand to anybody who asks about their beard. On the card will be the information for the Westfield Police Department, information on what the charity event is, and how one can make a donation. 

Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield is a non-profit hospital that is part of a national organization of 22 hospitals throughout the US. They specialize in treating orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lips and palates in children. 

In November of 2018, the Home Base Program’s “No Shave November” on which the WPD fundraiser is based, raised $276,000 across 118 New England Police Departments. 

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