The Arlington Police Department is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month by allowing officers to grow out their beards and to wear pink badges.
The pink badge program is something that the department has done for a number of years, said Jonathan Ventura, Arlington’s police chief, who notes they were one of the first departments in the area to participate in the pink badge program.
“We authorized the officers to wear pink badges again this year,” said Ventura.
“They have to buy the badges themselves, so the money isn’t coming from taxpayer dollars for these,” he said.
A portion of the sales for those pink badges goes to funding which supports breast cancer research and programs.
The badges also help raise awareness as community members ask about why the officers are wearing the pink badges.
“I can’t stress enough that it really is a good conversation starter and that people will come up to the officers just to talk about the badges,” said Ventura.
Because of that, the pink badges help with community engagement as well, said Ventura, as people can get to know their local police officers.
The department’s second initiative is to allow officers to grow out their beards.
The Arlington Police Department, like the majority of police departments, usually requires its officers to have clean shaven faces.
Local officers who want to grow their beard have to make a donation to be able to, which goes toward charities relating to breast cancer.
The initiative was inspired by No-Shave November and allows local officers to grow out their beard for a while.
“We’ll probably keep that going into next month, with officers having to donate again,” said Ventura.
No-Shave November is an annual program which focuses on men’s health issues.
At the end of November local officers usually give out awards for things like ‘best beard’ said Ventura, so it helps the department have something to bond over.
“It’s a huge morale boost as this is something officers don’t always get to do, and it’s also raising money for charity at the same time, so it’s a win-win,” said Ventura.
Ventura said that the department wants to support causes like breast cancer as it is something that affects many people.
For Ventura, he said it is a personal issue, as both his sister and mother-in-law are cancer survivors.
“Just about everybody knows someone who has been affected by cancer,” he said. “We have some of our own law enforcement family that have been affected."