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Grooming Standards in Police, Emergency Services

mariomike

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Saw this in another thread.

As an outsider, but coming from a police service, interesting development. My reaction would be similar to my reactions when police services started allowing beards, earrings, tattoos and the like, and reflected my generation - I didn't like it. I have this notion that professions should look, well, . . . professional, that cops shouldn't look like bikers, but fully realizing that my preferred image is pretty much undefinable. However, I recognize that, at the time, concerns that our constituency - rural and small town residents who actually pay the bills - would not accept the changes, did not happen in any significant way.

I suppose my bottom line is that the image being projected shouldn't be the individual's, it should be the organization that they are very visibly representing, and if the organization is okay with it, then fine. I have my doubts that it will increase recruiting, but I guess that remains to be seen.

Same constituents we relied on to encourage their councillors to support our pay and benefit packages.

Performance - and "first impression" - both counted.

This study of "Public Perceptions of Police Grooming Standards" was done in British Columbia.

Many law enforcement agencies have long had policies or regulations regarding grooming standards for police officers. These agencies have argued that strict grooming standards are necessary to ensure safety, discipline, and uniformity; to promote an esprit de corps; and to foster public respect for police. Courts have widely accepted these reasons as legitimate and rational.


Some might say taxpayers should be satisfied enough that you show up.
But, it was more than that. Especially when serving your community inside their homes. In my experience, they liked the "clean-cut" look. Smile and a shoe shine.

I recall a time when our members with below the elbow tattoos had to wear long-sleeve shirts when outside the station. Year round.

The OPP has (or at least had) rules that beards must closely shaven and hair must be a natural colour. Members looking like ZZ Top and purple hair on a senior commander pretty much negated the effectiveness of every policy point.

See also,


The whole idea of 'appropriate' visible tattoos strikes me as problematic.

Recruiters have time to study ink, ask what it means, take photos if in doubt, and forward them to the decsion makers.

The public doesn't have time for that. Some may just see a lot of ink, and come to their own conclusion.
Like the old "ink-blot" ( Rorschach ) test.

Best advice on tattoos, for those that want them, I heard is wait until you pass the Interview - they are going to want to see any skin not covered by a T-shirt - and finish your probation.

The answer on hiring is simple and straightforward – an employer can legally choose not to hire based on any (visible) tattoos or piercings. There would be no violation of the Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not relevant. This simple statement applies whether it is a unionized workplace or a union free workplace.

As far as daily shaving goes,

Specifications for the N95 mask require that users be clean-shaven where the mask contacts the skin, both during fit testing and during use in the operational field.

Besides, if you get a tattoo that is later ruled as inappropriate, isn't it a little late?

I remember a couple of scenes in "Sons of Anarchy" how they handled that.
 

Dale Denton

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I've read the studies (although it was ages ago), on the importance of dress and deportment. My general thinking is that nobody really cares about hair and tattoos anymore.

If officers have unique hair/tattoos/beard then it may go towards subconsciously humanizing officers - which i'm all in for. As long as its clean and tidy it should generally be allowed for uniformed officers, specialist jobs notwithstanding.

My .02, even if the science is against visible tattoos and beards you won't get a service that'll turn away solid applicants or push away pers just because buddy's got a cheesy sleeve tattoo. It's too common in public now to go backwards on this.
 

FJAG

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It's not just a military and police thing. Many (most?) service industries also have grooming standards for their employees. The employee represents the company and in many cases the company wants to present a certain image to their desired customer base. Certainly that's true for law firms, accounting firms and many other "professional" services. Even organizations like McDonalds provide uniforms for their staff to ensure that a set corporate image works the counters. Things may run much more loosely in an Amazon Fulfillment Centre but wherever the employee faces, or potentially faces, the customer, appearance matters.

🍻
 

mariomike

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Even organizations like McDonalds provide uniforms for their staff to ensure that a set corporate image works the counters.

🍻

Had a look at their Grooming Policy,

McDonald's official "Grooming Policy" is strict and includes 11 very-detailed bullet points covering everything from hair color (natural colors only) and length of side-burns (they can't extend below the earlobes), to fingernail length (you must be able to touch the touch screen register with "the flesh part of your finger") and jewelry (chains must be tucked into shirts). But where things get really strict is with piercings and tattoos. McDonald's wants their crew members to look clean, neat, and well-kempt, and apparently that's just too hard if you've got rings and ink all over your body.

For instance, under no circumstances are piercings around the mouth allowed. If you have a nose piercing, it can't have a hoop or ring, and it must be approved by the Area Supervisor. "Extreme stud piercing is not allowed," although it's not abundantly clear what that means, only later stating that a maximum of three piercings are allowed in each ear. The same goes for "extreme tattoos," although again, more details aren't readily given. Presumably, this means that if Mike Tyson decides he needs a job at McDonald's, thanks to his face tattoo, he won't make it past the first interview. So before you put in your own application, don a long-sleeve shirt to cover your tattooed forearms and remove at least a few of your earrings — it'll go a long way toward helping you get the job.

FJAG said,
wherever the employee faces, or potentially faces, the customer, appearance matters.

(y)
 

Booter

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I see cop work, and the emergency services in general as blue collar work. Which in contrary to basically everyone’s thinking.

But I did most of my time in less desirable places and circumstance- so it’s made me a bit of an outsider.

So I’m always concerned with effective- rather than presentation. I do feel like it takes all types. But I don’t look like a cop, and it’s never stopped people from speaking to me- because I can look a certain way and still not present a certain way, I don’t know if that makes sense.

I suppose it make sense once you’re dealing with professionals and politicians all the time- I would be upset if my appearance cost my people something because I wasn’t able to get my point across because I look like a clown.
 

Dale Denton

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It's not just a military and police thing. Many (most?) service industries also have grooming standards for their employees. The employee represents the company and in many cases the company wants to present a certain image to their desired customer base. Certainly that's true for law firms, accounting firms and many other "professional" services. Even organizations like McDonalds provide uniforms for their staff to ensure that a set corporate image works the counters. Things may run much more loosely in an Amazon Fulfillment Centre but wherever the employee faces, or potentially faces, the customer, appearance matters.

🍻

I will add, grooming standards are highly dependant on the customer/client base.

A Board looking to hire a law firm at $1000/hr won't be happy when the Girl in the Dragon Tattoo shows up for a deposition, but a company looking to attract young and diverse talent should be more relaxed. Which grooming standard suits a Service struggling to attract quality applicants?

You must make a distinction between a Cpl with St.Mike on her arm vs a Detective with neon blue hair.
 

lenaitch

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Like it or not and logical or not, perception does matter. i saw this in the 'New Dress Regs' thread and thought it was applicable here. Apologies if it has been posted previously:


Whether it's the local community safety officer talking to the local church group about Internet safety, or the Deputy Commissioner appearing before Treasury Board arguing for a few extra millions, if they look like they just escaped from a Mad Max set, to many - not necessarily all - their impact will be different simply because of their appearance. It may be shallow, but it is so. if it wasn't so, t-shirts and jeans could be the dress of the day.

I would imagine that those who aspire to be Commissioner, CDS or the person in the C-suite will follow a more conventional path.

Know your audience.
 

Booter

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I’ll just have to console myself with knowing the quality of several commissioners and that I’ll never be one 😬🤷‍♀️
 

RedFive

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Personally, I think your average Mountie looks like, to quote a former RSM of mine, a "gypsy mercenary". There are multiple varieties of SBA external carrier around, non-issue SBA carriers. everybody's belt is not only laid out differently (which I completely understand but the variety of different kinds of pouches almost none of which are similar kills me) but also from a different brand, there is a great variety of different kinds of boots and literally everybody is trying to find a way not to wear the grey dress shirts on patrol. And holy smokes do people hang the dumbest crap off the webbing on their SBA.

Also in my opinion, this is because the issued equipment is made by the lowest bidder garbage that is uncomfortable and does not inspire confidence that it will work or pride in the uniform.

If I was Commissioner for a day (or more than likely, Corps Sergeant Major for a day) I would rework the uniform and dress manual, source two or three quality, comfortable types of duty belts with specific pouch types, continue the pants and boots allowance but tighten the permissible types, issue blue duty shirts that actually work with body armour and modernize the policy to specify exactly what is and is not allowed. Rain jackets that are actually waterproof and shaped like a human would also be rolled out. Then I expect my NCOs and officers to enforce it. The reason its so bad right now is the issued stuff is so bad nobody will use it, and so nobody will enforce the existing rules because the enforcers are also covered in non-issue kit.

Not looking for everybody to look identical or wear identical kit, but if you look at crime scene photos from and Lower Mainland detachment the variety is hilariously bad.

I couldn't give a toss about tattoos or hair length or beards or any of it, as long as its not offensive tattoos. You wanna get ragdolled by some pissed off coked up roid monkey at a bar fight because of your pony tail or man bun? Fill yer boots. I'll do my best as your backup to mitigate the damage. Probably with a taser.

EDIT: I'll add that internally there has been releases claiming they're looking at new duty belts, blue shirts and there's another thread on the new pistol procurement so it's not all bad news. I'm cautiously optimistic.
 
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mariomike

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Hard to believe this was 50 years ago in Metro ( Borough of Scarborough ). Same year I hired on with the city.

( Scarborough Fire Dept. was later amalgamated into Toronto Emergency Services in 1998. )

A sign that employer attitudes were changing came in 1972, when an arbitrator sided with a 42-year-old Scarborough Fire Captain, who faced a 30-day demotion for refusing to trim his sideburns. Captain A.T. Cousins, a 16-year veteran of the Scarborough Fire Department, was described in the Globe as having a “reputation throughout the department as being fastidious in both dress and appearance…[earning] him the nickname Mr. Clean.” In explanation of his sideburns, Cousins said: “It was a matter of principle with me to be able to keep in step with the fashion of the times.”

Cousins had returned from a 1971 vacation with his sideburns “parallel to the top of his earlobe.” The District Chief ordered him shave his sideburns back, which Cousins did “under protest, and then launched a grievance.” Owen B. Shime of the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled that “as long as the employee performs the job or the work for which he has been hired, the employer has no authority to impose his personal views of appearance or dress upon the employee.” Shime also noted that there had been no complaints from the public, and that “the length of sideburns at an actual fire where firemen [are] dressed in firefighting attire, including masks…would probably not be noticed. What possible value is there in a rule requiring sideburns halfway down the ear?…I do not think that Capt. Cousins or other firefighters for that matter should be, as grown men with responsible positions and providing an important public service, subjected to the indignity of measuring their sideburns and then measuring them at the whim and personal opinion of others in authority.”

( See attached photo. )

literally everybody is trying to find a way not to wear the grey dress shirts on patrol.

I think we had it pretty comfortable as far as uniforms go. A soft, dark blue ( open-neck, but not a golf or dress ) short or long sleeve shirt , dark blue trousers, and dark blue jacket.

No chartreuse or reflector tape.

A cozy soft dark blue inside the liner of the jacket type top and dark blue T-shirts to wear in the station.

Only belt was the one they issued to hold your trousers up.

No facial hair because of FIT testing.

Simpler times, for sure.
 

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RedFive

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They're not well liked for a variety of reasons;

  • impossible to use concealment by day or in lit area at night
  • poor quality, hard to keep them looking reasonably well kept
  • the colour makes food stains from eating in the car or sweat stains from hard work really, really obvious
  • if you wear your armour inside your shirt they're poorly fitting and look like a garbage bag
  • if you wear your armour outside of them they're poorly fitting, it becomes obvious immediately when you start sweating, and your SBA grinds the buttons on the front of your shirt into your chest/sternum
  • as I found out last week, you can order the exact same size in short sleeve as your existing long sleeves, have them arrive and they won't even be close to fitting.
 

mariomike

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grey dress shirts

Even with the navy-blue shirts, we had to keep a supply of clean ones in our station lockers, in case a change was needed after crawling under a subway etc.

It was felt the solid navy- blue shirt, pants and jacket looked best.

That changed, just as I was retiring, to a piss yellow / puke green jacket, with flourescent stripes on the shirts and trousers. 🤢

A Health and Safety issue, apparently. They want "high visability" now. Glad I never had to wear it.

So, these days, if the wearer feels the need to dye their hair ( can't have a beard because of the FIT testing ) chartreuse, that should blend nicely with their current uniform. 🤮
 
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