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  • Cops With Cornrows pulled off street...

    Cop with cornrows pulled from street duty

    By DANA DiFILIPPO
    Philadelphia Daily News

    [email protected] 215-854-5934

    To get booted off the street, a police officer has to do something pretty serious - like shoot a suspect or be accused of brutality.
    But in the 35th District, which covers Logan, Olney and adjacent neighborhoods, apparently a hairdo will do it.

    A cop who got cornrows was ordered off the street and kept on desk duty for two days until he cut his braids off, sources said.

    While dozens of black officers across the city wear cornrows, Officer Thomas Strain is white. So when the five-year veteran showed up for work Sept. 3 with the traditionally black hairstyle, it didn't take long for his colleagues - or his bosses - to notice.

    "They pulled him out of roll call and took him right up to the inspector's office," said an officer who asked to remain anonymous.

    Reached last week, Strain declined to comment about the hair hubbub.

    But multiple officers in the 35th say it's been hot gossip, overshadowed only by worries of potential police layoffs, which were averted Thursday when the state agreed to help alleviate the city's budget woes.

    "It's absolutely discriminatory," said one officer. Strain's cornrows 'do "was neat. It was above his collar. It's not like he shaved a Nazi sign or something anti-black or anti-Hispanic on his head. It's just cornrows. I don't know what the problem is."

    The problem, police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said, is that Strain's superior didn't feel his cornrows were "professional."

    Ordering Strain to chop them off had nothing to do with discrimination, added Vanore, who spoke with Inspector Aaron Horne about the incident.

    Horne, who oversees the Northwest Police Division, which includes the 35th District, is the supervisor who directed Strain to banish the braids.

    "The policy's the policy, it doesn't matter what race you are," Vanore said.

    Police policy requires officers to have "clean, properly trimmed and combed hair" that doesn't prevent them from wearing their uniform hat "in a military-manner," Vanore said.

    The policy prohibits "unnatural" hair colors such as blue, purple or green but doesn't ban specific styles, such as cornrows, mohawks, dreadlocks or bouffants.

    Vanore didn't see Strain's cornrows, but speculated that they may have kept his hat from fitting his head in the required military manner. He couldn't explain why black officers with cornrows weren't ordered to get haircuts - unless they're women, because the hair policy for female officers is slightly more permissive.

    Still, while the division inspector did instruct Strain to get a haircut, Vanore emphasized, the officer wasn't formally disciplined.

    This isn't the first time an officer's appearance has caused commotion in the 35th District.

    Officer Kimberlie Webb in 2005 sued the city and the police department after she was barred from wearing a hijab, or Muslim head scarf, on the job. A federal appeals court last April upheld the department's policy, saying religious garb imperils the department's appearance of "religious neutrality."

    Other police departments have endured hair hullabaloos too.

    Baltimore in 2007 tried to ban its officers from wearing cornrows, mohawks and dreadlocks, shaving designs into the hair or fashioning hair into "sculpture."

    But officers and others objected on civil-rights grounds, and the ban was never implemented.

    Two officers in Dallas in 2001 claimed they lost their jobs because they refused to cut off their dreadlocks. A Dallas police spokesman said those officers were fired for other disciplinary reasons unrelated to hairstyle.

    As for Strain, friends describe him as a hardworking cop who hails from a family of police officers and who adores police work.

    The former Marine served in Iraq, where he twice survived explosions when his Hummer hit roadside bombs in 2006, co-workers said.

    "He's a guy that, when things go bad, you want him there," one officer said.

    John McGrody, vice president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, said the union has "no position" on the discrimination claim.

    "If the officer's hairstyle is consistent with the policy, it shouldn't affect him," he said.

  • #2
    Funny how I never saw anyone else of any race get pulled off the street because of their hairstyle.

    Comment


    • #3
      I believe that cornrows look like crap and should not be allowed (for every one). Its seems very suspicious that this white male was singled out when I see officers of other races with cornrows every day and nothing happens to them. And the FOP saying that they will not get involved is a joke. What is the point of paying dues bi-weekly if they don't want to get involved.

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree. It seems like Officer Strain might have a case of discrimination if they take further action against him while allowing other officers to work the street? Perhaps this is the overall intention or became the intention of keeping the cornrows in.
        I don't know why this kid wants to put cornrows in his head. He is a nice kid, an Iraqi war vet and I believe a father. I believe his brother was also just cleared from the grand jury over the beating case of the motorists recently.
        Maybe that has something to do with his defiance also? Who knows. But if he really believes that there are two sets of rules for officers then more power to him for standing up for his right to be white and wear cornrows. I guess.

        Comment


        • #5
          Corn rows are you serious? I dont care what race you are if you came into a department that I was in charge of I would suspend you. If its turns into a problem I would fire them. Police officers are suppose to look professional not thugs. I could not imagine doing something like that.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Baysidegal View Post
            I agree. It seems like Officer Strain might have a case of discrimination if they take further action against him while allowing other officers to work the street? Perhaps this is the overall intention or became the intention of keeping the cornrows in.
            I don't know why this kid wants to put cornrows in his head. He is a nice kid, an Iraqi war vet and I believe a father. I believe his brother was also just cleared from the grand jury over the beating case of the motorists recently.
            Maybe that has something to do with his defiance also? Who knows. But if he really believes that there are two sets of rules for officers then more power to him for standing up for his right to be white and wear cornrows. I guess.
            summer, he's an idiot for doing this. the issue isn't that he got fronted for this, it's that others haven't....

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dagwood2001 View Post
              summer, he's an idiot for doing this. the issue isn't that he got fronted for this, it's that others haven't....
              We can't begin to understand what Strain's motivation (if any) is for coming into work with cornrows. Maybe his old lady thought it looked sexy? Who knows. If he did it because he is taking a stand then its his stand to take. Some of us have been put through the ringer for much less then that.
              If he is trying to protest a double standard and is willing to take what comes with it, well more power to him. I just can't seeing being the guy that came to work wearing the cornrows as something to be "known" for.

              Hate the cornrows or not, if they pull him off the street because of them, they should pull everyone off the street. I am sure Ramsey is putting out a new memo on the subject as we speak.

              Comment


              • #8
                "And yes, they should pull everyone off the street because one moron gets jammed for being unprofessional."

                Exactly. If you do it to one then you have to do it to everyone. You can't let it go because this one officer is black and maybe even the godson of some deputy. It should be equal and fair across the board.
                Whether the guy did it on purpose or just had a drunken weekend that someone messed with his head, it brings up a very important issue. If they do not allow him to work the street (as they should) then it should be so across the board.
                There is no integrity anymore. People wear Tweety bird socks, Winnie the Pooh socks, umbrellas, unauthorized raincoats and last but not least beards. What hopefully this will do is bring back some conformity to the department by forcing EVERYONE to comply. The two sets of rules is what brings the department down not the people that challenge it.
                Last edited by Baysidegal; 09-21-2009, 08:39 PM. Reason: "" ""

                Comment


                • #9
                  As long as mullets are banned from police work too, I have no problems with cornrows being banned.
                  Those who believe, ye shall receive.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thankfully my department prohibits cornrows, mohawks, dreadlocks, afro's, mullets, shaving designs etc etc. Must be neat, off the ears, military hair cut for the road officers.
                    In Memory of A Fallen Hero

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We have policy in place, the real problem is the Cpl's and Sgt's growing a set and enforcing the rules and not being scared to do so.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JayhawkFan View Post
                        As long as mullets are banned from police work too, I have no problems with cornrows being banned.
                        DITTO !!!! Who the "heck" thinks that look is cool?? was stupid when it was "in" back in the early '90s yet some bone heads still sport it....
                        "we're americans ! We don't quit because we're wrong, we just keep doing it wrong UNTIL it turns out Right"...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Reminds me of Joe Dirt.... Maybe they should bring back the mullet?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by PPDSWD View Post
                            I believe that cornrows look like crap and should not be allowed (for every one). Its seems very suspicious that this white male was singled out when I see officers of other races with cornrows every day and nothing happens to them. And the FOP saying that they will not get involved is a joke. What is the point of paying dues bi-weekly if they don't want to get involved.
                            First off- no MATTER WHO wears it, its a pitiful and STUPID look! Growing up in South Central L.A. it was a thugs look( local Crips wore them with pride, an I found it "strange" that these guys got them done by "other men" while incarcerated-later found out that alot of "secret" stuff goes on in jail that these "macho , gangster" types DON'T tell their "Homies" on the street, nor their girlfriends ! Corn rows have nothing friggin ' "Cultural" at all about it. But then again, its just another example of the whithering standards in L.E. People who say it has no effect on the way "we do business" are full of crap- when you stray outside the conservative standards, you also tend to abandoned the adherence to the standards( As well as the WILL TO UNIFORMLY ENFORCE THE LAW). Corn rows are great, "IF" you are working a plainclothes or UC assignment- on patrol? HELL NO !!!!

                            I notice alot of the new generation, that push for these loose standards, and personal appearance issues, also tend to NOT give a rats' tail about ACTUALLY DOING THE JOB !!They hang out in "hug a thug" clubs and nitespots, they emulate the dress styles and are enamoured with The Yo MTV Crowd.( b*tched at a 2 yr guy on my job who came in one day with underwear showing saggy pants, and a baseball hat turned to the side- his off duty weapon was peaking out from his hip- UNHOLSTERED, and I told him that if a local LASD unit had pulled him over ,he'd have gotten PRONED OUT before he could even id himself!!!

                            Bottom line- "this job" doesn't need HIP HOP COPS or, "gangsta' deputies", or Gen X skateboard crowd !!! Panty waist management is to blame, and corn rows look like crap (* what next- will it be "cool" to wear a rolled up joint on the side of yer' ear?)
                            "we're americans ! We don't quit because we're wrong, we just keep doing it wrong UNTIL it turns out Right"...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My buddy works in the 35th with this guy who wore the cornrows. He only did it to prove a point. Like if the blacks can wear them why can't the whites.

                              Another black female officer actually got mad at him for wearing them...

                              Comment

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