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Policewomen don mustaches for a cause

Photo courtesy of San Marcos Police Department.

While male officers of San Marcos Police Department gained attention for participating in No-Shave November to raise money and awareness for testicular cancer, female officers devised their own way to contribute to the initiative as well.

Policemen donated money to the Testicular Cancer Foundation in exchange for permission to grow a beard during the month of November and female officers were able to pay the same amount of money to wear a false mustache or pencil one in, effectively expanding the fundraiser.

“Males have always been known to support breast cancer awareness initiatives and fundraisers, and we’d like to do the same for them,” said Commander Kelly Earnest of the Criminal Investigative Division. “Testicular cancer isn’t exactly at the forefront of awareness right now, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to show support from the female side.”

Earnest said because women cannot grow beards, they wanted to find a way to participate and contribute to the cause.

“October is breast cancer awareness month and all kinds of folks support it, regardless of their gender,” said Roya Williamson, of Victims’ Services Coordinator. “November is testicular cancer month, so I thought this would be a cool way for women comrades to show their support. It’s a novelty idea.”

Although the Beard Patrol initiative was originally designed to raise money, the primary motivating force behind SMPD’s involvement was raising awareness, Williamson said.

“This is a fun way for female employees to show support for a cause that does not directly affect them, but is still important to the community,” Williamson said. “Just because we can’t grow beards doesn’t mean we can’t stand by our guys.”

Earnest said female officers were not authorized by the chief of police to wear false mustaches while on active duty, due to concerns that law enforcement officials would not be taken seriously.

Instead, all participating female employees posed for a photograph in their false mustaches, Earnest said.

“Really, in the long run, our objective is to raise awareness,” Earnest said. “The money we raise goes into research, but the awareness we raise has the potential to actually save a life.”

When all is said and done, expected monetary contributions garnered from the inclusion of female employees in the Beard Patrol initiative is estimated to total close to $250, Earnest said.

According to the Testicular Cancer Foundation, testicular cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among males between the ages of 15 and 35. This is the first year SMPD participated in Beard Patrol, which was launched by TCF several years ago as a facet of a partnership with the Austin Police Department.

The SMPD has been in contact with TCF founder and CEO Matt Ferstler, and the two parties have exchanged correspondence regarding expanding female participation in the movement, Earnest said.

“The founder of the TCF is considering contacting other agencies, to see if other departments would be willing to expand their participation in the same way that we have,” Earnest said. “We hope that what we’re doing will catch people’s interest.”