Const. Grant Bernier of Princeton, B.C., shows off the new face of the RCMP.

New RCMP policy is a little hairy

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

The face of the RCMP is literally changing – and it’s a bit hairy.

Last month, Canada’s national police service changed its grooming policy, allowing all its members to grow beards for the first time.

“The updated policy promotes a culture of respect, reflecting the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce, while maintaining high professional and safety standards,” said national spokesperson Sgt. Tania Vaughan out of in Ottawa.

Officers may now wear facial hair of between 0.5 cm and 2.5 cm in length and bulk, provided it is neatly groomed.

The previous policy, written in 1975, required all members to be clean shaven unless they had a religious or medical exemption, or an operational requirement.

“It was time to refresh and review the policies using a modern lens,” said Vaughan.

The issue is not without controversy.

In 2017, an RCMP officer in Moncton, N.B., was removed from regular duty for growing a goatee.

That same year, other members grew beards as part of a campaign to draw attention to their working conditions.

Vaughan said members’ response to the new policy, which came into effect May 22, has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

The rules also contain updated uniform regulations, including allowing for Indigenous items to be worn as part of ceremonial dress.

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