SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Syracuse Police Officers are trading their traditional shiny gold badges for pink shields this month to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Next month, they'll shed light on men's health issues, like colorectal and prostate cancer, by growing beards, goatees or facial hair within reason, which is against departmental policy.
Also during November, women on the force will be allowed to wear a shade of blue nail polish, the color that symbolizes support for prostate and colorectal cancer awareness.
Syracuse Police Sgt. Colin Hillman and Sgt. Jim Malana came up with the promotion, which is happening now because October is breast cancer awareness month. "Sgt. Milana and I wrote the proposal, and the chiefs were great. They supported us from the start,"says Sgt. Hillman.
Switching to the pink badges is optional. Every participating officer has a mandatory donation for two months, which allows them to wear pink shields for the month of October and participate in No Shave November.
So far, 250 officers have donated $10,000 to support local cancer-fighting and educational charities.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Men are affected to a lesser degree.
"It's always a good reminder during breast cancer awareness month for women to get checked, do those life-saving screenings. Cancer really affects everybody in some way, shape or form, and so if we can reach out and be a little closer to the community on these important issues, it's a win-win," says Deputy Chief Rebecca Thompson.
The goal is to show the community supports cancer survivors, research, prevention and to spark conversation.
"It's connecting with the community and it's a pretty bold statement," says Sgt. Hillman," It's going to stir up conversation, as I'm sure we're going to get some questions on the street and it's an opportunity for us to connect with our community regarding health issues that affect us all. It's an opportunity for us to humanize the badge."
In additional to supporting local cancer-awareness charities, Sgt. Hillman and Deputy Chief Thompson hope it will serve as a morale-booster for officers too.
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