For the third year in a row, Hamburg Borough Police stopped shaving for the month of November, raising funds for a family in need through No Shave November.
“I am very proud of our police when they are able to step out of their traditional law enforcement role to show concern and compassion. This is one obvious example of how our police help people every day,” said Hamburg Borough Mayor George Holmes. “As a former Sergeant Major in the Army, I’ve got to be honest; I’m not a big fan of unshaven officers. However, because it’s for a good cause and helps create community involvement, I encourage the officers to participate. The comments I receive about it are mostly positive.”
“The goal for participating in No Shave November is to build community relations and trust,” said Hamburg Borough Police Officer Ryan Brobst. “To show the public we do more than just enforce the law and arrest people. We contribute to the community in a positive way that everyone can see and agree upon.”
“Many people see police as militaristic or robotic by their nature,” Brobst continued. “They see the uniform, the badge, and the tools on our belts and feel we are all the same. While some departments allow officers to have some form of facial hair, it is rare and still very regulated. In being allowed the opportunity to grow a full beard or goatee during the month of November, we can show the general public a different face, both literally and figuratively. We are ordinary people just like everyone else.”
Hamburg Borough Police Chief Anthony M. Kuklinski agreed.
“The goal of the No Shave November was to foster community involvement by the officers. The officers are having fun doing it and the residents see the benefit to the event,” said Kuklinski. “It is a community outreach. This job is all about community involvement.”
This event is just one activity that the Hamburg Borough Police Department normally does to be more involved in the community, including bike patrols, foot patrols, officers in the schools, community education programs, and officers out checking businesses at night time.
“(No Shave November) shows the community that the officers are regular guys and want to embrace community involvement,” said Kuklinski.
The donation drive, held during the month November, is being conducted by the Hamburg Police Officers’ Association.
“We get to help a family in need,” said Hamburg Police Officers’ Association President Keven Chase. “Plus, we get to grow beards, which is fun.”
Normally, law enforcement cannot grow facial hair except for a mustache. During No Shave November, participating officers are allowed to grow their beards as part of this event.
“It’s a change of pace for one month out of the year,” he said.
Chase has served in law enforcement for more than 20 years, which means shaving every day.
“Me personally, I really enjoy growing a beard. It’s nice not to have to shave every day for a month,” he said. “I took it one step further and stopped shaving my head. I have not had hair on my head since age 18.”
Growing beards also gives officers a new look and an opportunity to connect with community members.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people say, ‘You look nice with a beard.’ It starts conversations,” said Chase.
As in prior years, proceeds from the event will go toward a needy family or to support a non-profit group. “We try to keep it in Hamburg Borough,” Chase said.
The Association votes on who will receive the donation, which can be used as the recipient chooses, such as for bills, medical expenses and Christmas gifts.
“In past years the police association has helped less fortunate families with holiday needs,” said Kuklinski. “The money all goes back to help out either a family in need or an organization that provides services to the town. It’s a lot more than just buying toys for kids; it’s about supporting the entire family unit or an entity that helps out the borough.”
“Every year, the funds go toward something different. This year we intend to work with other entities like the school district and local businesses to identify families that have been struggling the most due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brobst. “The year has been hard on everyone. We hope to bring some good news and fun to an otherwise stressful chapter in our lives — to remind everyone that when everything seems to be going wrong it cannot and will not last forever.”
At the beginning of November, donation jars were placed around Hamburg Borough and surrounding areas including at Hamburg businesses.
“A lot of our local businesses help out with allowing the officers to put collection jars in the business. A little bit of change goes a long way,” said Kuklinski.
Also a GoFundMe page was created for donations, https://www.gofundme.com/f/hamburg-police-no-shave-novermber. Donations to officers directly during their shift are typically frowned upon due to its perception to the public.