by Jen Lynds
FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — There is little that law enforcement officers hate worse than losing victims to domestic violence.
That is why officers at the Fort Fairfield Police Department have decided to grow something to both raise awareness and money to combat the problem — their facial hair.
Monthly, from now until April, each officer will donate $25 to the Hope & Justice Project, raising awareness about the issue of domestic violence and contributing cash to help combat it, Tim Goff, economic and marketing director for Fort Fairfield, said late last week.
Officers at the department started growing their beards a little more than a month ago, he said.
Formerly called the Battered Women’s Project before it was renamed in 2010, the agency has existed in Aroostook County for 30 years.
It works to help people affected by abuse and violence in their families and in their dating relationships and offers prevention education and training programs that encourage and support safe relationships, according to its website. It also encourages
community members to recognize and understand the nature of abuse and violence.
Just last fall, on what would have been Amy Theriault’s 32nd birthday, employees and volunteers with the Hope & Justice Project handed out colored chalk to area sixth-graders in Fort Kent and encouraged them to use it to write or draw about domestic abuse on the town’s sidewalks.
But there was no chalk for Amy Theriault.
She was the one being written about, murdered on May 31, 2014 in St. Francis, at the hands of her boyfriend, Jesse Marquis. Theriault died of a gunshot wound to the chest and multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck, according to a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office. The death was ruled a homicide. Marquis is awaiting trial for murder in jail and has pleaded not guilty.
Goff said that law enforcement officers in Aroostook County work closely with advocates at Hope & Justice Project to ensure the safety of victims of abuse.
It is the hope of both groups that this initiative will not only raise awareness and funds for survivors of domestic violence, but also strengthen relationships between officers and advocates.
Fort Fairfield Police Chief Bill Campbell, in an additional bit of philanthropy, is donating double the amount his officers are giving each month so that he does NOT have to grow a beard.
The chief also said that his force is reaching out to other departments in The County to garner their support by taking part in their “Beards and Badges” fundraiser.
“If each officer serving in a law enforcement agency in Aroostook County took the time they normally spent shaving to educate others about the issue of domestic violence in our communities, we could make a tremendous impact,” he said. “And the money raised by simply allowing our facial hair to grow will help victims of violence know that there is no excuse for domestic violence and that there are people willing to help them break the cycle of domestic violence.”
To see how the “Beards and Badges” initiative is going, click here for the department’s Facebook page.
The Hope & Justice Project is the domestic violence resource center in Aroostook County, and its 24/7, free and confidential hotline is available to anyone who has been affected by domestic abuse at 800-439-