Charles Ovalle checks calls on his computer system and decides which ones to answer based on his current location while on patrol June 23. Ovalle says he feels like himself again after being able to regrow his beard for the first time since becoming a police officer three years ago.

When Sgt. Nick Chavez saw the email, he thought it was an April Fools’ Day joke.

That’s because the email, which said the Santa Fe Police Department was initiating a pilot program allowing uniformed officers to grow facial hair, was sent on April 1.

“I said, ‘Is this for real?’ ” recalled Chavez, a 12-year veteran of the force who is now, by the way, growing a beard and mustache.


Donald Lindsey strokes his beard as he and officers talk about their newly allowed facial hair June 23.


Richard Hilderbrant, left, speaks to Gerald Lovato about how different his hair is compared to his brother’s on June 23 at the Santa Fe Police Department.


Gerald Lovato explains how police officers often receive calls that do not warrant law enforcement while on patrol on June 23. Lovato has grown out his beard since the Santa Fe Police Department allowed officers to have facial hair and says his wife ‘loves my salt and pepper beard.’

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