Portland Police officers may soon be allowed to grow beards, as long the facial hair doesn’t interfere with their job performance, or “does not interfere with the proper fit of protective equipment,” according to a police bureau statement.

The proposed beard policy was announced Wednesday, among a package of changes the bureau is making to deal with a critical shortage of officers and recruiting challenges.

The bureau is also proposing a relaxation of its standards for tattoos. Tattoos above the neck may be permitted, but police officials will review them to ensure they aren’t sexually explicit, racially biased or discriminatory.

The Portland Police initially said the new approach to beards and tattoos would go into effect in a matter of weeks, but a revised statement Wednesday evening said those rules would instead “be updated and sent out for public review and comment prior to being accepted.” 

Also Wednesday, the bureau announced plans to lower its education requirement for new officers. It will now take candidates with a GED or high school diploma, rather than requiring more extensive education or relevant experience to qualify.

Candidates with bachelor’s degrees or comparable work experience in law enforcement won’t have to take a qualifying exam.

The bureau says its new, lower standards align with state law enforcement criteria for officer certification.

“These changes to policies were made after careful review of our hiring process in the attempt to identify potential barriers to entry,” said Chief Danielle Outlaw. “We will revisit the effectiveness of these changes after two years to determine if our hiring numbers have increased.”

The Bureau says it is trying to fill 128 officer vacancies and is anticipating more retirements next year.