MERIDEN — A little upper lip hair is nothing to sneeze at, but one local officer’s two-decade facial-hair-growing endeavor has won him a worldwide Facebook contest for best law enforcement mustache.
Officer Hector Cardona of the Meriden Police Department has been growing his mustache for as long as he can remember, and said his wife and children have never seen him without some sort of “stache.” Locals know Cardona instantly by his signature handlebar mustache and friendly demeanor.
A Facebook page, called “Police Blotter,” is run by eight law enforcement officers in Ohio. One of the page administrators, an Ohio police officer, said the page started as a humor page two years ago as a way for other law enforcement officers to share funny stories and news, and is also a way for them to unwind and laugh. The officer said the “cop ‘stache” is a stereotype, so the page administrators thought it would be funny to have a contest for the best one. The page, which has 190,652 “likes,” has fans from all over the world, the officer said, and anyone in law enforcement could enter the contest. A picture had to be submitted and then voting took place on the page. Cardona was announced as the winner on Aug. 8. He will receive a T-shirt from the “Police Blotter” page, and a hoodie from “Cops and Doughnuts,” a bakery out of Michigan that has partnered with the Facebook page. Three officers were chosen as winners of the contest.
Retired Meriden police Sgt. Joyce Hoff submitted Cardona’s photo for the contest. Hoff said when she saw the contest on the page, she thought of was Cardona. The picture Hoff submitted was one taken of Cardona as he responded to help at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December.
“When you think about police mustaches, you think of Hector,” Hoff said. “There will never be another one like Hector.”
Hoff said Cardona received about 280 votes for his picture.
Cardona said people started coming up to him and saying they had voted for him, and he had no idea what they were talking about. He’d been so involved with getting ready for the Puerto Rican festival on Sunday he hadn’t been on Facebook recently.
Cardona said he was luckily grandfathered in by policy with his mustache, having started at the department in 1983.
“I have been lucky to be able to keep it,” Cardona said.
Cardona said he isn’t going to go “too crazy” with his mustache while he is with the department, but once he retires, he will probably grow it out. The process to get the signature look takes about 40 minutes, Cardona said, and requires the right amount of styling wax to hold it. If he uses too much, he has to wash it out and start again, and if he doesn’t use enough, it won’t hold it’s shape, Cardona said. And contrary to some beliefs, he does not use curlers to get those perfect circles, Cardona said.
“I use bottles,” Cardona said. “I get the right size that way.”
The weather can take it’s toll on the mustache, if it is too humid it can droop throughout the day, and he has to use a blow dryer on a cool setting to set the mustache in the morning, Cardona said.
Cardona’s son, Hector Cardona, Jr. is in the Meriden Police Department’s Crime Suppression Unit. Cardona, Sr. said his son sometimes grows a “Fu Manchu” mustache. Cardona Sr. said everywhere he goes, in and out of uniform, people want to talk to him about his mustache and take pictures with him.
Doug Theriault, a maintenance worker with the police department, said he and his wife both voted for Cardona in the contest. Theriault called to congratulate Cardona on Friday.
“He does have the best mustache,” Theriault said.