EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 30, 2013

Getting beard

Pelham police officers grow their support for Sox in the World Series

By Alex Lippa

---- — PELHAM — Facial hair is not allowed at the Pelham Police Department. But the brass is making an exception for the World Series.

Police Chief Joseph Roark told officers they had his approval to grow beards starting last week to support the Red Sox, whose unkempt chin locks have become a team signature as they seek redemption from the disastrous 2012 season.

Master Patrol Officer Matt Keenliside pitched the idea to Roark after seeing on the news that the Farmington, N.H., Police Department had put aside razors for the duration of the series.

“We thought it would be a good way to show our support for the team,” Keenliside said.

But to grow a beard, each officer had to make a $50 donation to the Pelham Good Neighbor Fund. The charity helps Pelham residents in financial need with rent, heat, food and electricity.

The 16 participating officers combined to raise $800 for the fund -- then threw in another $455 to coax Roark into growing a beard.

“We hoped to influence him a little bit more and put him on the spot,” Keenliside said.

It worked.

Lt. Brian McCarthy said fundraisers like this help build the connection between police and the town they serve.

“We are community caretakers,” McCarthy said. “We believe in supporting our community and this is just one small way that we can do this.”

Officer Brian Kelly said he normally wouldn’t have been tempted to grow a beard, but this was different.

“It’s like a forbidden fruit,” he said. “We can, so we do, and it helps that it’s for a good cause.”

The officers have been growing the beards for only a week, so their whiskers can’t match the impressive displays of the Red Sox players. But they are proud of what they’ve accomplished on short notice.

“This still looks like it’s about a month old,” McCarthy joked.

Keenliside said most officers were eager to grow a beard.

“The only ones who aren’t participating are the women and those who can’t grow one for military reasons,” he said.

Keenliside’s beard is the fullest of them all.

“I just had a vacation, so I cheated a little bit,” he said.

Keenliside hopes his fellow officers will be free to scrape the bristles after tonight’s Game 6.

“Hopefully we just finish it off and get a win,” he said.