Arts and Culture

Gentlemen, keep your mustaches: An open letter to the Durango Police Department

To the officers of the Durango Police Department:

A couple of months ago, as you are no doubt aware, your department quietly changed its policy to allow a form of facial hair that has never in modern history been widely sported by members of the law enforcement community: the goatee. As the the Durango Herald uncovered this weekend in a truly shining example of excellent investigative journalism, a goatee popped up on the chin of your own Chief David Felice right around the time of the policy change, and chin follicles have gradually appeared on other members of your force as well. But just because it's allowed doesn't make it right.

At first blush, of course, the shift seems pretty innocuous -- after all, this is the modern age of goatees on many respectable men, and the policy still expressly bans full beards and requires the chin hair to be "neatly trimmed and not interfere with the wearing of required safety equipment." To many, this facial hair allowance might come off as a step forward.

But if that's the case, then riddle me this, DPD: Why is your department so secretive about it? According to the Herald, Felice would not respond to repeated calls regarding the new policy, and department spokeswoman Micki Browning called the inquiry "a waste of newsprint." On the contrary, Browning, few issues could be so important.

Because what's been largely ignored in the new rule is a more momentous challenge than any in memory to a hallowed police tradition.

Since time immemorial, police departments across the nation -- and indeed, across the world -- have maintained general facial hair bans with one crucial exception: the mustache is almost always considered acceptable -- in some police departments in India, police officers can even get paid extra for wearing a mustache. Though the origins of this tradition are unclear -- for most policemen, that's just the way it is and always has been -- common sense reinforces what Jhabua, India, Police Chief Mayank Jain so eloquently stated: "Moustaches are improving the personalities of our constables. They are acquiring an aura of their own. They are creating a positive impression on the local people and getting a lot of respect."

Damn right, Felice, and while there is no explicit police doctrine to enforce it, you know as well as anyone else why unwritten law enforcement code says lip-locks or nothing: The mustache commands respect. Mustaches, as everyone knows, are for stout-hearted men (and occasionally women) of fortitude, and diluting them with a goatee is akin to sipping a Smirnoff Ice instead of beer-bonging straight vodka -- which is to say, it's for pussies. Not to imply that a single member of your brave police team lacks anything in the way of stout-heartedness, but you know what I'm talking about.

Let's be clear: I don't in any way oppose the policy change, though it seems a little suspect in lieu of Felice's recent adoption of the goatee -- preferential treatment? Nevertheless, I support the right of members of the law-enforcement community to style their facial hair in whatever way they wish; making a mustache mandatory is just as bad as prohibiting it, since mustaches are, above all, a symbol of fierce individuality and the glorious embrace of personal freedoms. The goatee, on the other hand, is a symbol of moral irresoluteness and being a Dave Navarro fan. Just saying.

But with freedom, as mustache-wearers well know, comes responsibility, and while I celebrate the greater freedom that has been afforded to you, I also urge you to eschew it. Be not tempted toward the wily promise of immoderate facial hair, brave officers, for you and I both know that the mustache is and forever shall be the only follicular arrangement fit to adorn the stony visages of those entrusted to serve and protect this great nation.

And get rid of this Felice guy -- he sounds like a dotard.

Respectfully yours,

Jef Otte Unofficial Mustache Ambassador

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte