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Law enforcement officers in Utah County growing beards for a good cause


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SPANISH FORK — It's not every day policies change at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

So when Lt. Tom Hodgson got approval from the sheriff to change a certain policy, he knew it was big.

"I've been here 30 years and it's been that policy since I've been here,” said Hodgson. "The policy is no facial hair. You can have a mustache, obviously, but it's got to be trimmed."

Yes. Facial hair. Beards and goatees are now OK.

"Just to be able to grow a beard like I've always wanted to do is just a relief, you know? I like it,” said deputy Jason Phillippi.

The change in the facial hair policy isn’t just because some guys wanted to sleep in a little. It’s actually for something important.

"I have been involved with ‘Shop with a Cop’ for 26 years in Utah County. That’s where kids who might not have toys for Christmas go with law enforcement officers to a store to buy toys,” Hodgson said. “We get far more out of the program than the children do.”

The program is getting a lot of extra money this year because of the change in facial hair policy. Deputies are paying $50 a month, October through December, to grow a beard.

Even female deputies are chipping in to the program to sponsor male co-workers who might not have the extra cash to participate.

All that money goes to "Shop With A Cop.”

"Now, we're almost to 70 guys. And that’s just here in the sheriff's office. So far, we've raised $6,000,” Hodgson said.

Of course, boys being boys, beard contests started popping up: longest, grayest, worst.

"Some of the guys grow a huge beard so fast. It's amazing,” said deputy Byron Johnson with a laugh. “And then some of the studs, it's like, ‘Oh my heck, why even bother.’”

It's amazing what joking around does for morale. What’s more amazing is what a temporary policy change does for children.

"It's going to allow us to help more children, obviously,” Hodgson said.


Alex Cabrero


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