Updated April 7, 2020 - 5:15 pm
Despite a statewide shutdown that forced Nevada hair salons and barbershops to close, Las Vegas police officers can still have their hair cut this week at department headquarters and police substations.
The special arrangements were apparently approved by Gov. Steve Sisolak, according to a Las Vegas Police Protective Association memo obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The memo notes that the police union’s president and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo have been in contact with Sisolak about the haircuts “due to department grooming standards.”
“None of these barbers or stylists will be in jeopardy of having sanctions imposed against them during this rare occurrence,” the memo reads.
In a statement, Sisolak’s office told the Review-Journal that the governor has been in contact with Lombardo regarding officer grooming standards, but noted “they are in agreement that bringing in stylists and barbers does not help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada.”
“In a past discussion with the union, the Governor expressed this same position,” the statement continues. “He was not aware of the memo being sent out by LVPPA.”
At least 19 barbers and hairdressers are offering Las Vegas police officers their services this week at various department properties, according to the union memo, including at the Clark County Detention Center and McCarran International Airport, where some officers are stationed.
“We will be practicing all social distancing guidelines,” the memo also reads, noting that the department will provide hairdressers and barbers with masks and gloves. “When you come in please make sure you wash your hands and sanitize before your appointment.”
The Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment, describing the haircuts as an “event” coordinated by the police union and referring any questions to the union. Steve Grammas, the union president, did not return a request for comment.
When Sisolak in March ordered that all nonessential businesses shut down, his directive affected “all salons that deliver hair, nail, skin, or other beauty-related services, regardless of square footage size of the business location,” according to a Nevada Board of Cosmetology memo dated March 18.
“The directive does not allow in-home beauty services,” the memo noted. “The directive is for your health and safety, along with the health and safety of your clients and co-workers.”
The cosmetology board also noted in the memo that sanitizer and disinfectant products are in short supply, and that without those essentials, “the risk of infection increases.”
The Nevada Barbers’ Health and Sanitation Board, which separately oversees barbering in the state, issued a similar memo after Sisolak’s order, noting that the directive “does not allow you to work at home or make house calls.”
“Please understand that this is for your own health and safety and the safety of our community,” the memo continues.
About 1,600 people in Nevada hold barber licenses, according to the barber board.
Separately, about 16,600 people in the state hold cosmetology licenses, which means they can offer hair, nail and skin services, according to the cosmetology board. In addition, about 750 can specifically offer hair services as licensed hair designers.
‘Anywhere that is convenient’
Metro in March canceled social visits at the county jail, and on Monday, the department announced in a news release that the department is “limiting outside providers coming into detention facilities” as part of a series of enhanced measures to protect inmates.
In the union memo, officers were advised that to receive a haircut, they did not have to go the location where they typically report for duty, but instead could go “anywhere that is convenient to you” on the list of scheduled locations, including the detention center.
The haircuts are available to both men and women, with at least one hairdresser offering services only to women. It’s unclear if Las Vegas police grooming guidelines point to specific haircut requirements for women. A records request for a copy of any related policy was not immediately fulfilled.
Each haircut costs $25, according to the memo, and officers were instructed to pay hairdressers or barbers in “CASH ONLY” for unspecified reasons. The memo notes “first priority will be given to commissioned officers.”
It’s unclear how the department selected which hairdressers can offer services at Metro properties this week. The memo included no information about an application process, noting only that the union “reached out to hairdressers/barbers to see if they would be willing” to provide haircuts at Metro properties.
Questions about whether the available hairdressers had any client history with Las Vegas police or any personal relation to any Las Vegas police officers were not answered.
The department also did not answer whether Metro considered relaxing department grooming guidelines amid the pandemic.