If you think you noticed a more clean cut looking Forest Park police force recently your eyes are not deceiving you.
Forest Park police officers have spent more time in front of the mirror shaving since the department recently ended a six month experiment of allowing officers to wear goatees.
The department has returned to its previous policy of allowing no facial hair except for mustaches.
“We took a look at how it was going on a trial basis and saw that it wasn’t projecting the professional image that we try to project, therefore we ended the trial period.” said Village Administrator Michael Sturino.
Last summer some officers approached Police Chief James Ryan with a request to be allowed to wear goatees. Ryan, who was formerly chief in Des Plaines where police officers were allowed to wear goatees, ran the idea by Sturino and they decided to give it a try.
Ryan estimated that perhaps 12 to 14 members of the 38 person department grew goatees. But after a while Ryan noticed that some the goatees were getting a little shaggy.
“I really thought some of them weren’t as well groomed as I had hoped they would be,” said Ryan.
So two weeks ago Sturino informed Ryan that the experiment would be ended and, as of Monday January 23, Forest Park police officers could only sport mustaches if they wanted to have facial hair.
A brief survey of other local police departments determined that most did not allow beards and goatees. River Forest does allow beards, but police officers must still be able to fit their respiratory masks over their beards according to River Forest deputy chief Kendra Sullivan.
Oak Park and Riverside do not permit police officers to wear beards or goatees according to their departments, although Oak Park will make an exception with a doctors note if an officer has a medical condition that makes shaving especially painful.
Chief Ryan said he received no citizen complaints about the appearance of his officers during the trial period.
According to Sturino, Forest Park fire department officers are not allowed to wear beards or goatees, but other village employees may.
Sturino said he thinks police officers look more professional, and less threatening, without goatees.
“I think they look more like cops,” said Sturino.