Sheriff’s department grows beards for cancer

Warren Scott
NO-SHAVE NOVEMBER — Members of the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department may grow neatly kept beards while making donations to the American Cancer Society in observance of No-Shave November. Among those participating are, from left, Sheriff Larry Palmer; Aaron Jones, administrative assistant for the department; Sgt. Kyler Ferguson and Cpl. Gary Conley, who currently serves as a plainclothes detective.

Warren Scott NO-SHAVE NOVEMBER — Members of the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department may grow neatly kept beards while making donations to the American Cancer Society in observance of No-Shave November. Among those participating are, from left, Sheriff Larry Palmer; Aaron Jones, administrative assistant for the department; Sgt. Kyler Ferguson and Cpl. Gary Conley, who currently serves as a plainclothes detective.

WELLSBURG — Several members of the Brooke County Sheriff’s Separtment are giving up their razors for a while to support the American Cancer Society.

Brooke County Sheriff Larry Palmer said he’s given members of his department permission to grow beards in October and November, provided they are neatly kept and they make a $25 donation to the American Cancer Society for each month.

“I thought, what better way to raise money and awareness,” Palmer said of the move.

He added the deputies will be wearing small pink and white breast cancer awareness bars on their uniforms because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“I think almost everybody has been touched by cancer,” Palmer said, noting his mother, the late Brooke County Magistrate Debbie Lunsford, died from lung cancer, and sheriff’s deputy Kevin Heck is a cancer survivor.

The option extends to the sheriff’s deputies and others in department, including officers who are overseeing the home confinement of convicted offenders and non-law enforcement staff involved in the mapping and addressing of county homes and businesses for the emergency 911 center.

Palmer said not all of his staff will be growing beards. He said Cpl. Kristen Richmond and some male deputies, who have chosen not to grow beards, have volunteered to make donations anyway.

He added the fundraiser is supported by the Brooke County Deputy Sheriffs Association, whose members aren’t limited to current officers.

Palmer said since becoming sheriff earlier this year, he has allowed the deputies to grow neatly kept goatees.

He said some sheriffs have allowed their deputies to grow full beards throughout the year. He said it’s something he would consider to help bridge the gap between law enforcement officers and the community.

“We want people to see us as human, too,” Palmer said.

He said it’s not unusual for some of his deputies to grow beards while on vacation, including during hunting season.

Palmer said when he started in law enforcement in 1992, all officers were expected to have short hair and no more than a mustache for facial hair.

He said some former law enforcement officers have told him they prefer a cleancut appearance for today’s offices.

“But, when I explain the beards are to support the American Cancer Society, they have been very supportive,” he said.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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