Image: Philadelphia Police Officer Thomas Strain
Philadelphia Daily News via
Police Officer Thomas Strain was taken off the street earlier this month after he showed up to work with his hair braided in cornrows. staff and news service reports
updated 9/22/2009 8:43:52 AM ET 2009-09-22T12:43:52

Police in Philadelphia say a white officer who came to work with cornrows was ordered by a black superior to get a haircut because the braids violated department standards.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday that Officer Thomas Strain was put on desk duty this month because of the braids, even though the paper reported dozens of black officers wear cornrows.

"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 to the paper about the hair hubbub.

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'Professional' look
Police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore says Strain's boss told the officer to cut his hair to look more "professional."

Vanore says officers' hats must fit "in a military manner" over their hair, and that Strain's hat did not. Strain got a haircut; he declined comment to the paper.

Interviewed by the Daily News, Vanore said he couldn't explain why black officers with cornrows weren't ordered to get haircuts — unless they're women. The policy for female officers is slightly more permissive, he said.

Friends, according to the newspaper, described Strain 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," the officer told the paper.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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