Ask A Cop

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Illustration: Steve Thueson

Dear Cop,

I love your answers to the community’s questions—thank you! I believe I have the most cop-befuddling questions yet, and I anxiously await your reply. I’m wondering about male cop fashion (specifically male because I only notice certain “trends” in male cops on duty). Obviously, cops must wear a uniform, which extremely delimits the leeway with which a cop COULD have any fashion/self-expression through clothing. I notice, however, that there is a stark difference between the generations of male cops in regard to hair. It seems that, in the good-ol’ days, cops would opt for the “traditional” look: neat, coifed, parted hair and a mustache—maybe even a handlebar mustache, if they felt so inclined. They look like they could be your dad … or an aging porn star. Nowadays, with younger male cops, they all seem to look like Brock Lesnar: more shaved and spiky with more tacky facial-hair styles; or shaved heads and look like Butterbean. What do you feel demarcates these intergenerational style markers in male cops? Are the more militaristic looks for younger cops propelled by the likening of the police force to the military? Or do younger cops just really like UFC and looking like they wear Affliction? ‘Cause it looks douchey.
Love,
For fashionism
Dear Fashionista,
Not that I’m any kind of fashion expert (Costco wardrobe for me), but I, too, many years ago, sported the John Holmes, ’70s porn ’stache. It was LA County Sheriff deputies who made this “cop look” famous.
You’re on target that new coppers have a completely different grooming style. Whereas the older generation was influenced by a ’70s mustache, or even a little more modern, Crockett and Tubbs, the new generation is influenced by Lesnar, Bieber, Timberlake, etc. … and yes, that’s why new coppers just look douchey.  The metro-sexual movement that swept the nation was the downfall of the neat, coiffed, Ron Burgundy look. Although, the modern-looking, bald cop does have advantages when the beat-to-shit victim tries to pull your hair to stop you from taking their abusive spouse to jail.
Militarization of police is hogwash. I know both services very well. Some equipment is similar, but tactics are a total 180-degree opposite. “Militarization” seems like the new police “slam” term by the “if it feels good, do it” crowd (aka looters).
Yes, a similar “uniform” appearance for cops is necessary.  Where cops can accessorize is in their equipment.  An old, ’stache-wearing copper might have leather gear, and the new Bieber-esque patroller could have nylon. The Eric Estrada–esque old-timer might deploy an AR-15 type rifle, and the boot might prefer an H&K 416. I don’t know any, but there’s probably an old timer holdout somewhere who still carries a revolver. I’ll bet he sports a wicked-cool mustache, too.
Cop hair standards exist, but it’s more about length than style.  I’d love a standard for “how” a cop wears their hair.  Gnarly 911 disturbance calls with boozed-up revelers suck when your backup really does look like the Bieber. It never ends well. You should promote yourself to the various police departments as a liaison with the fashion industry.  If you can get the hair and clothing right, maybe people won’t think we’re so militaristic, or at least not so douchey.
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