After years of breaking up protests from area residents, members of the Hamptons Police Department, from dispatchers to officers and even some top brass, formed their own picket line this week to speak out against new health, fitness and grooming standards they’re calling “outrageously unfair.”
According to an internal Department memo leaked this week, HPD employees at all levels must adhere to more stringent personal hygiene and workout regimens. Further, the memo says male police and support staff are no longer permitted to grow facial hair, and all haircuts must be close-cropped. “With the advent of Memorial Day weekend and the return to summer, we cannot stress enough the importance of employees maintaining an organized and well-kept appearance,” the orders conclude, adding, “We will be happy to revisit these rules after Labor Day.”
The new standards have proved especially devastating to certain officers, including Hans and Oskar Mütter, who have been preparing for “der Festspiele Bart,” the world’s most respected professional bearding contest, held each July in Düsseldorf, Germany. “My brother and I may be police officers, but we live for bearding competitions,” a still-bearded Hans said through tears on Wednesday. “Removing our beards is no different than ripping out our hearts,” he continued.
“Hans and I have spent the last 18 months growing our facial hair in anticipation of this contest,” Oskar added, stroking his voluminous face mane. “We came close to placing last year, and cutting our beards now would deprive us of any chance at that prize money. It’s a violation of our rights.”
The der Festspiele Bart website notes that prizes for finalists range from $35,000 for placing in various smaller events—such as Skinniest Long Moustache, Softest Natural Beard, Softest Oiled Beard or Densest Soul Patch—to $1 million for the man or woman crowned as Bart König Kaiser, the event’s grand champion. Both Mütter brothers, who currently sport 36-inch beards, say they are serious contenders for a variety of prizes, which could ultimately earn enough points for the festival’s largest payout and Bart König Kaiser glory.
“We know what people think, but this is not a joke to us,” Hans pointed out. “I know the Department doesn’t like our beards, and my brother and I are pretty certain creating all these new rules is just a deft cover to get us to cut them off.”
Indeed, the HPD rulebook has never addressed facial hair, fitness or hygiene, but spokesman Rex Gallant says it was never an issue. “We’re not focusing on any employee in particular with the new standards,” he explained this week. “The Department realized we had a hole in our rules, and we wanted to cover ourselves before we end up with slovenly officers coming to work unkempt, unclean and in no shape to run or perform their duties,” the handsome, clean-shaven and muscular PR guru added. “Yes, this may have happened at my suggestion, but it had nothing to do with the Mütter brothers, no matter how ridiculous they look in uniform.”
Other HPD employees argue that asking them to slim down and/or clean up their appearance is unfair and discriminatory. As of Thursday, the new standards were not being enforced and both Hans and Oskar Mütter were wearing their beards in long, luxurious braids.