Just the Facts, Ma'am

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Ramblings: Cops with Mustaches

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
If you stood 30 cops shoulder to shoulder, three-quarters of them would have a mustache. Hopefully none of them were female! Why? It’s not required and it’s a personal choice but for some. there’s a reason. When I came on the job, I didn’t have a mustache—never even thought of growing one. Good thing; probationers were not allowed to have a mustache unless his training officer and 7/8 of the watch said it was ok. You also weren’t allowed to wear short sleeve uniform shirts or combat boots until you had been around for a while. If you tried to wear these items you were called salty and given a stern lecture. You might even find yourself working station security every time it rained.

Beatles with Ed SullivanIf you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and survived you probably were in the hippy period. I remember when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan with their long hair. Yea, I’m that old. I thought, “They’ll never last.” Most of my favorite bands had clean cut hair and wore suits with thin ties! Well, we saw the hippies wearing long hair but they weren’t cops.  A lot of cops’ pre-police photos show long hair and sometimes outrageous mustaches. Once on the job, you had a very strict dress code: close-cut hair, side burns that couldn’t be lower than your ear canal. We had regular inspections and it was not unusual for an officer to be told to get a haircut.

Homewood police beardsThere were also strict guidelines for mustaches. They had to be neatly trimmed and could not extend past the corner of your mouth. We were some of the best dressed cops in the nation. I used to shudder when I saw pictures of cops from back east. They had long hair and mustaches that made you think of a motorcycle gang. Now days some departments allow beards and goatees. Not my style.

So why did I grow a mustache? It was simple. I joined the Los Angeles Police Department at the ripe old age of 21. I was thin and still produced a face pimple now and then. I kept my hair short from my academy days. I didn’t grow a mustache to be one of the guys but I grew a mustache to be taken seriously.

I once went on a radio call and the PR (Person Reporting) was an elderly woman.  As I was interviewing her she stopped me in mid-sentence and asked me, “Are you old enough to be a cop?”

70's shooting rangeI assured her that yes, I was old enough and told her I was married with a son.
She said, “How Sweet.” But I got the feeling she thought I had just come from my high school prom! It wasn’t the first time I had been asked that question.

Another time I was in a bar during a robbery investigation and the bartender asked me rather sarcastically, “Are you old enough to be in a bar.” I replied I was old enough to arrest him! I wasn’t generally a smart ass but I got tired of that question.

That was it. I had just three years on the job and I was on vacation. I have a whole month off. I’m going to grow a mustache, just for kicks. My wife’s vote just barely lost in a closely-contested campaign. I grew my mustache just before my daughter’s birth. To this day, she’s never seen me without a mustache.

Funny, I never again was asked if I’m old enough to be a cop! I also haven’t had a face pimple since 1973! I’ve made up for my youthful appearance in my later years. I no longer get asked if I qualify for the senior citizen discount. My mustache has turned grey but I keep it trimmed. It now grows past the corner of my mouth but then the inspections conducted by my wife are rare and less restrictive.

When did you grow a mustache? Male replies only.


6 comments on “Ramblings: Cops with Mustaches

  1. marilynm
    May 21, 2017

    When my son-in-law was a cop, every one of his fellow cops sported a mustache, and with their dark glasses, they all looked alike. When grandson was a cop for Aspen CO he sported a beard–still a cop, but in a big California city, he’s clean shaven. Like that best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thonie Hevron
      May 21, 2017

      Marilyn, I have to agree. I prefer beardless, too. Mustaches are fine if kept tidy. I’ve seen cops who were unkempt and not a good reflection of the community and their department. It makes an impression.


  2. Danny Hevron
    May 21, 2017

    I grew my mustache in January of 1971. 23 years old, just back from Viet Nam so still sporting the “GI” look. I kept that look to help impress the oral board of the Fire Department I applied at. I got the job and grew a mustache to look like 99% of my fellow fire fighters. We had the same grooming standards that LAPD enforced so some of the reason we grew them was tied to a rebel attitude but mostly because everyone knows that fire fighters have mustaches! I’ve shaved it off a few times in my life only to told by all my friends and relatives to grow it back. That’s one of the identifiers we cops and firemen use to spot a off duty or retired brother in a crowd.

    Danny Hevron, Author’s Housekeeper, Cook and Laundry Expert.

    On Sun, May 21, 2017 at 6:03 AM, Just the Facts, Ma’am wrote:

    > Thonie Hevron posted: “By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD If you stood 30 cops > shoulder to shoulder, three-quarters of them would have a mustache. > Hopefully none of them were female! Why? It’s not required and it’s a > personal choice but for some. there’s a reason. When I came on the” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. fuzthatwaslapd7612
    May 21, 2017


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dan Welle
    May 21, 2017

    Hal, I’ve worn a moustache for most of my adult life. The exceptions were USAF Basic Training at Lackland AFB, USAF Tech-School at Keesler AFB And then the LAPD Academy.

    When I graduated from the Academy I was assigned to Southwest Division for probation. I worked one month on PM then I went to Morning Watch, Where I immediately got rid of my Bruce Brown, replacing it with a far more comfortable Sam Browne, I replaced my issue holster with a clamshell and I grew my moustache back.

    It didn’t take long before one of the TOs told me that I couldn’t wear a moustache. I asked, “why not?” He replied, “Probationers aren’t allowed to wear a moustache.” I then asked, “Is that in the Manual?” ( I knew it wasn’t.) He was now unsure of himself and went to the AM Watch Commander, Sgt “Black” Jack Schmida. Sgt. Schmida listened to the TO. When the TO finished Sgt Schmida, without speaking, turned to the bookshelf behind the Watch Commander’s desk pulled out a Department Manual and handed it to the TO. The TO was a bit perplexed, and just stood there. SGT Schmida broke the silence saying, “He’s right, now go back to work.”

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on May 21, 2017 by in Ramblings by Hal and tagged , , , , , , .

Cop Talk

For all things about cop culture-the work, the family, the days off.

The purpose of this page is to educate writers of all genres to be accurate in their portrayal of law enforcement professionals. This includes meter maids (I was a "lovely Rita" many years ago), dispatcher, patrol officers, detectives, and administrators.

I have many resources in my 35 year career in California law enforcement. I index and explain common errors that found in all media. Guests will also post about police professionalism today and tomorrow as well as historical articles about the way things used to be, "back in the day".

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Extra postings will include California 'Officer Down' notices or something special. I will update progress of my current literary project as they develop.
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