"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."
Cop with cornrows pulled from street duty | Philadelphia Daily News | 09/21/2009