For the first time in recent memory, police officers in Minneapolis are now allowed to come to work sporting a beard.

But not at the Final Four.

In years past, officers with even the faintest trace of a 5 o'clock shadow risked discipline for running afoul of the department's strict grooming standards.

But at the start of this year, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo agreed to allow department personnel to wear "neatly trimmed and groomed" beards and goatees on a trial basis, caving in to those in the department who pointed to changing social norms.

Arradondo admitted that he had his doubts.

"I recognize that even I had my own personal thoughts on this matter, in which I was reluctant in allowing for this change primarily because of my generational grooming standards when I joined the MPD," Arradondo wrote in his order. "However, I also recognize that the MPD and our culture will continue to change and evolve into the future."

Not everyone can put away their razor just yet. The old no-beard policy still applies to officers "assigned to a uniform detail during special events like the upcoming Final Four."

Appearances must be kept up for the duration of college basketball's biggest tournament, department officials say, with nearly 100,000 out-of-town visitors expected to pack city streets for the championship game on Monday.

Final Four or not, members of the department's honor guard, community service officers and new hires are also banned from growing facial hair.

Arradondo said he will reevaluate the policy in January.

In loosening its standards, Minneapolis joins other police departments around the country that have become more forgiving of tattoos and piercings — once considered taboo in law enforcement — as they try to attract younger recruits.

At the department's annual awards ceremony in March, Arradondo and Assistant Chief Mike Kjos drew laughs from the audience when they talked about how the perpetually clean-shaven Kjos had fought against the new policy.