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Hillsdale’s police department and sheriff’s office will not loosen their dress codes. | Wiki­media Commons

Even though dress codes are changing across the U.S., the Hillsdale Police Department and the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office plan on keeping theirs the same.

Most notably, the New York City Police Department changed its policy in late December to allow Sikh officers to wear t

urbans for reli­gious reasons. The NYPD was also sued this summer by Masood Syed, a Muslim officer, who said he was sus­pended for wearing a beard longer than policy allowed, according to CNN.

Depart­ments in Penn­syl­vania and Kansas have reviewed their tattoo policies. Others in New Orleans; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Pinellas Park, Florida simply chose to overlook their tattoo policies, according to Fox News.

According to Hillsdale’s officers, however, it’s a sit­u­ation that does not apply here.

“We strive to be pro­fes­sional and look pro­fes­sional in every­thing we do,” Hillsdale County Sheriff Timothy Parker said.

Dress codes for both the sheriff’s office and the police department reg­ulate how officers may wear their hair and facial hair, in addition to the uni­forms they wear.

“It’s a very old policy, it’s not one we really have to enforce,” said Scott Hephner, the city of Hillsdale’s chief of police. “Most of the people comply with it.”

Although the policies do have reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions, Hephner said, most who join the police force know what the job entails.

“People know what the pro­fession means; they want to be involved in this pro­fession,” he said. “Same as when people go into the mil­itary. They know what it’s all about.”

Army Ranger veteran and Hillsdale College freshman Jacob Damec agrees with this mindset in the wake of recent tattoo restric­tions in the mil­itary.

“It is important for sol­diers to look like sol­diers,” Damec, 22, said. “You don’t rep­resent yourself anymore; you rep­resent the U.S. Army.”

Damec said he believes it is a soldier’s respon­si­bility to comply with dress codes.

“If your reli­gious beliefs require you wear a beard and turban all the time, it’s not the Army’s job to meet you,” he said. “It’s your job to meet the standard. Why would you join an orga­ni­zation where you have to be clean-cut and shaven?”

Pro­tecting the rights of the officers is important, though, said Hephner, although that isn’t cur­rently at the fore­front of the dis­cussion.

This is largely due to the demo­graphics of the county. Evan­gelical Protes­tants are the second-largest reli­gious group in Hillsdale County, coming second to those who either don’t claim a religion or do not belong to one of the 236 groups listed in the study, according to The Asso­ci­ation of Religion Data Archives.

“If that did become a concern here, at that time we would have to look at it,” he said. “Just because a policy is old doesn’t mean it’s set in stone, and we revise and update policies con­tin­ually.”

Until there’s an explicit need, the sheriff’s office and police department don’t plan on changing on this policy.

“What they do in New York, what they do in Cal­i­fornia — that’s why I don’t live in New York or Cal­i­fornia. I live in Hillsdale County and I’m very proud to live in this com­munity,” Parker said. “As the sheriff of our com­munity, it’s appro­priate for me to under­stand the stan­dards for com­munity, and our com­munity stan­dards are sub­stan­tially dif­ferent than what New York City would be.”