The Duluth Police Department is doing something that hasn't been done in a century. Since the late 1800's the Duluth Police Department has had a strict facial hair policy. Mustaches are allowed, but beards are not. Chief Mike Tusken said when the policy was instituted, it was for practicality.
"Gas masks can't properly seal over a face with facial hair. So, the origins go back decades," said Tusken.
Tusken said he has continued the policy because he believes the clean-shaven look makes officers appear more professional, and approachable. That's something some of the officers agree with.
"[We] do it to maintain a clean-cut appearance for the public. But, I'm definitely a beard guy, and I'm enthused to be able to grow one," said officer Benjamin Kneeland.
Chief Tusken has relaxed the policy just for the months of November and December, allowing officers to grow a beard, as long as they make a donation to two local non-profits. One is the Shield 616 who make body armor for law enforcement, the other is for area youth programs such like the Valley Youth Center, Boys and Girls Club and Neighborhood Youth Services.
"It's fun, and it's a perfect time of year to do it," said officer Mike Jambor.
The department is also recreating a little history, with what Tusken is calling "Hairy Holidays". On Wednesday, 21 officers recreated a picture taken of the force somewhere between 1892 and 1894.
"To kind of take a step back in history, and recreate some of that is nice, because we're remembering where we came from, and where our profession has been," said Jambor.
Tusken said documenting this era of the DPD is important to him, "It's very important for me to capture our history, and preserve it," he said.
Of course, Tusken says capturing the moment wasn't the easiest.
"Getting that many cops, with that many type-A personalities to take direction for a picture, it was a challenge. But it was fun, and you know, 120 years from now, somebody will look at that picture and say, 'wow, look at those folks,'" said Tusken.
The new look only lasts until the end of the year, at which point Tusken says he might consider a permanent change to the policy.
More than 50 officers have participated, and they're on pace to raise more than $2,000 for the non-profits.