Bloomfield Township police, fire square off in beard battle

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 4, 2019

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BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Did you know that Bloomfield Township strictly enforces grooming rules for its police officers and firefighters? Hair must be off the ears and collar, mustaches must be neatly trimmed, and they can’t even think about sporting a beard or a goatee.

Now that you know that fun fact, completely disregard it.

Both departments will let their facial hair down during No Shave November, as a way to raise money for men’s health awareness.

The Battle Over Beards will offer police officers and firefighters the chance to take a break from razors this month if they make a $50 donation to the Michigan Institute of Urology’s Men’s Health Foundation. When the calendar flips to December, they’ll head to the Berkley Chop Shop for a trim.

“This is a fun way for us to let the guys in our departments grow out their facial hair while raising money for a great cause and spreading awareness about men’s health,” Bloomfield Township Police Department Capt. Dan Edwards said in a press release. “This gives us a chance to start a conversation with folks in our community. Our officers are out there every day, and we’ll be sharing the message of how important it is to take care of your mental and physical health. So when you see one of our officers with some extra facial hair, we hope you start a conversation with them.”

The MIU Men’s Health Foundation just hosted its ninth annual free men’s health screening in late September, welcoming hundreds of men to Ford Field for no-cost health screenings and tests that would normally run in the thousands of dollars. The goal was to get men the information they need about their own health so they could treat and prevent medical issues early.

Dr. Michael Lutz, a Birmingham urologist and the founder of the MIU Men’s Health Foundation, said there are lots of men who neglect their wellness while they tend to the needs of their family and career. First responders are especially guilty of that, turning their attention to others before themselves every day, in and out of uniform.

“Police officers have a high risk of stress-related anxiety and depression,” Lutz said in a press release. “And because they work shift duties, which disrupts their sleep patterns, they are also at risk for metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease.”

There’s probably a good chance that Bloomfield Township Police Department Officer Pete Matejcik will be on board for the beard battle. He’s a self-proclaimed “poster child for early detection,” having been diagnosed with prostate cancer at 42 years old.

He was treated with brachytherapy —  internally administered radiation — over a 24-hour period, and that was it. Eleven years later, he’s cancer-free and working with the MIU Men’s Health Foundation to spread the word on early detection.

“Since then, I’ve been rolling triple-zeros on my subsequent annual (prostate-specific antigen) tests, and things are working just fine, if you take my meaning,” Matejcik said in an email. “But this outcome was almost completely dictated by early detection.”

Female officers and firefighters can be advocates during the monthlong campaign by dyeing a blue stripe into their hair or sporting blue nail polish.

The shave-off will take place at 11 a.m. Dec 3, just ahead of Giving Tuesday. The best beard will be determined by the Berkley Chop Shop’s barbers, and the winner will receive a gift certificate to Griffin Claw Brewing Co. in Birmingham’s Rail District. The first 14 participants to shave off their beards that day will get a Griffin Claw growler.

To get in on the Battle Over Beards, people can head to mi and make a contribution to the cause in the name of the Police Department or Fire Department. Both departments will be posting to their Facebook pages to keep residents updated on the competition.