Sunday Conversation with Justin Arndt

Powder Springs cops give up razors to benefit needy families

The Powder Springs Police Department is looking a little stubbly these days. And with good reason. Since Sept. 1, otherwise clean-shaven officers began forking over $20 a month so they can grow beards. This isn’t about vanity or machismo. It’s about raising money to help two Powder Springs families have great holidays. “This is a way to show that we are human, too, and part of the community,” said Officer Justin Arndt. Last year, the police department’s “Cops with Beards” fundraiser collected more than $900. This year, the Powder Springs police are hoping to raise $1,500. That’s a lot of beards to go along with those badges. At least until January, when the razors come out.

Q: How long have you been a police officer and why did you want to become one?

A: I have been here for five and a half years. Being a police officer is a noble profession and looked highly upon by the majority of the public. I wanted to be in a position to help people. It is definitely a challenging career and I'm up for the challenge.

Q: What is your role with the Powder Springs Police Department?

A: I am the community outreach officer and responsible for the public relations between the police and the community. I go to schools and talk to kids about safe driving. I have been talking a lot, especially to elementary school kids, about the dangers of social media and cybercrimes, about not speaking to strangers online. I am also the public information officer and handle our social media accounts.

Q: How did you all come up with the “Cops with Beards” campaign?

A: Our policy states that we have to be well-groomed and cannot have facial hair except for a mustache. A few officers suggested that we pay a monthly fee to grow facial hair and give all of the proceeds to a family that needed help during whatever holiday they celebrate. Last year was our first year and it was a great success. We held the fundraiser for three months and raised over $900. We partnered with Compton Elementary to choose the family. This year, we are extending the fundraiser by a month and doing it on behalf of two families. Powder Springs Elementary will help us identify the second family.

Q: What about the women officers?

A: They can choose to participate by donating to the fundraiser just like any other officer.

Q: Did you like growing a beard?

A: Facial hair isn't really my thing. I had never had a beard, ever, until last year during this fundraiser. It hit me as a way to give back so I sucked it up. It was not the best beard in the world but I actually learned to like it. My family liked it, too.

Q: So you did like how you looked?

A: Just having a different look and a fresh new appearance was appealing to me. It was something cool and a unique experience. It just mixes it up a little bit.

Q: How did it feel to shave it off?

A: I got so used to the beard that I didn't recognize myself after I shaved. I kind of missed it and I am glad it is coming back now.

Q: Did folks in the community notice that so many of their officers had beards?

A: We would go to QuikTrip to have a cup of coffee or out on a call and people would ask us why our officers had facial hair. They are not used to seeing beards on officers. It was a great way to interact with the community and explain what the fundraiser was all about.

Q: Did any of them give you a donation?

A: We actually did get a few donations from the public.

Q: Anything else?

A: Helping families during the holidays goes hand in hand with our mission statement: to enhance the quality of life for our residents here in Powder Springs.

If you are interested in contributing to the Powder Springs Police Department’s fundraiser, you can send a check to the City of Powder Springs, 1114 Richard D. Sailors Parkway, Powder Springs, GA, 30127. Write “Cops with Beards” in the memo line.