Perhaps you noticed East Hampton police officers growing a little more facial hair than usual.
Well, there was a purpose behind what may have looked like a throw back to the 1970s. All jokes aside, town and village police officers grew moustaches as part of an international campaign to raise awareness of men's health issues.
"During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches on men's faces around the world," according to the Movember Foundation website. "Through the power of the Mo, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges."
East Hampton Town Police Sgt. John Claflin said 24 police officers, including 5 village police officers, took part, raising funds for the foundation. Officer David Orlando spearheaded the effort. The officers — or "Mo Bros" as the foundation refers to participants — gathered together to commemorate the effort on Saturday with a photograph taken by Diane Balnis, the wife of Town Police Officer Ryan Balnis.Speaking for the group, Claflin said Sgt. Joseph Kearney's squad grew mouth brows last year, sort of as a joke, but realizing its significance, the whole department was invited to join this year. "We got much more than we thought we were going to have," Claflin said of the number of officers.
Still, "The guys got a lot of laughs over the moustashes," Claflin said. "They were all real, but a couple of them were pretty pathetic," he said with a laugh. "It was fun. We all enjoyed it."
Captain Michael Sarlo, who becomes Chief of the East Hampton Town Police Department at the end of the month, said the officers grew moustaches with the administration's blessing. "We thought it was great that so many members participated in a good cause and, hopefully, helped raise awareness," Sarlo said. "It did sort of feel a bit like a bad '70s cop show at times, but it was a nice effort by the guys."
East Hampton Village Police Jerry Larsen said, "It was a nice gesture by the guys for a worthy cause."
The officers had to adhere to the departments' guidelines, which stipulate they have to keep their hair neat, clean and trimmed. They can't have a goatee, for instance.
Some even made it a family affair. Officer Matt Rodriguez and his son, Officer Michael Rodriguez who joined the department last year, posed for a photo together.
The foundation, which began in 2004, hopes the campaign serves as a reminder for men to get annual check-ups and be more aware of family history of cancer, which will lead to early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately less deaths.