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Officers at the Goffstown Police Department are growing goatees to raise awareness of men’s health issues. From left are Detective Matthew Barber, officer Ryan Buker, officer Christopher Patten, officer Jacob Yaris and Lt. Pierre Pouliot. (Kathy Remillard Photo)

Goffstown police officers sport new look to call attention to men’s health issues

Goffstown police officers are sporting a scruffier look these days - for a good cause.

They've been given special permission from the chief to grow goatees this month in support of 'Movember,' an international effort to raise money for the support of men's health initiatives and awareness of serious diseases, specifically prostate and testicular cancers.

Officer Ryan Buker said he was familiar with the organization and decided to pitch the idea to Chief Patrick Sullivan.

'I thought it was a good thing to do for awareness, and it would be a good bonding experience for us, too,' Buker said.

While Movember celebrates the growing of the moustache, Buker said Chief Sullivan took it one step further.

'He increased it to allowing us to grow goatees,' Buker said. 'That was a little bit of a morale booster - we've never been able to have goatees.'

The department has raised more than $1,000 for the charity so far, and money is going to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Livestrong Foundation.

Founded in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003, 30 men participated in the first-ever event, but it wasn't until the following year that it made money - 450 participants raised $43,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia in 2004.

Movember came to the U.S. in 2007, with 2,127 participants raising over $740,000, and by 2011, it raised $15 million.

From its humble beginnings, the movement has grown considerably.

According to the Movember website, more than $126 million worldwide in 2011, in countries from the U.S. and Canada to Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Spain, among others.

This year, there will be official Movember campaigns in 21 countries.

In Goffstown, officers provide information to those curious about all of that facial hair and direct them to the Movember website so that they can donate if they wish. The last week of the month, the goatees will be shaved down to moustaches, and trophies will be awarded to the officer who raises the most money, and the one who is voted to have the best moustache. Lt. Pierre Pouliot said the experience has been a positive one for the officers.

'For us, it's a great motivating, team-building experience,' he said.

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