Portland Police officers will now be allowed to grow beards, as long the facial hair doesn’t interfere with their job performance, or “does not interfere with the proper fit of protective equipment,” according to a police bureau statement.
The new beard policy was announced Wednesday, among a package of changes the bureau is making to deal with a critical shortage of officers and recruiting challenges.
Among the changes, the bureau is lowering its education requirement for new officers. It will now take candidates with a GED or high school diploma, rather than requiring more extensive education or relevant experience to qualify.
Candidates with bachelor’s degrees or comparable work experience in law enforcement won’t have to take a qualifying exam.
The bureau says its new, lower standards align with state law enforcement criteria for officer certification.
The bureau is also relaxing its standard for tattoos. It will now allow tattoos above the neck, but will review them to ensure they aren’t sexually explicit, racially biased, or discriminatory.
“These changes to policies were made after careful review of our hiring process in the attempt to identify potential barriers to entry,” said Chief Danielle Outlaw. “We will revisit the effectiveness of these changes after two years to determine if our hiring numbers have increased.”
The Bureau says it is trying to fill 128 officer vacancies and is anticipating more retirements next year .