As it does every year, breast cancer awareness month starts in October. But officers at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department are getting a head start on the pink parade by using pink handcuffs, pink badges, and other pink uniform accessories to—uh, remind the people that they are arresting to get screened for breast cancer. I wish that I was making this up.
Alex Villanueva, an actual sheriff in Los Angeles, tweeted about the pink initiative on Wednesday and included a photo of himself and two other officers holding their new pink cuffs. Sadly, their guns will not also be pink.
Villanueva explains in the tweet that the pink gear is meant to “grab your attention” as the sheriff’s department raises awareness around breast cancer and prays for a cure. He also points out in subsequent tweets that doctors at the department’s local hospital have noticed more women putting off their mammograms as a result of covid. Nothing says “pray for the titties” like getting arrested and having a cop slap on some pink handcuffs—which you can’t even see properly with your hands cuffed behind you. But that’s beside the point.
Going pink for the cure is a common practice used by every major company from the NFL to the local coffee shop. As we’ve seen time and time again, these initiatives serves little to no purpose other than selling merchandise where a minor percentage gets donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, allowing brands to pat themselves on the back for doing the good work.
But this pink-washing is particularly notable for its dedication to serving absolutely no purpose. The pink handcuffs aren’t for sale and no portion of parking tickets are being donated to a breast cancer research foundation. Villanueva tweeted that his department had donated $10,000 to a local hospital but that money doesn’t appear to be linked to the new pink gear.
The irony of this situation did not go unnoticed by folks on Twitter, one of whom swiftly responded with a stat from the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare that states, “Rates of cervical and breast cancer are higher among incarcerated women, likely related to under-screening both before incarceration and while in custody.” It’s almost as if the target audience is other police officers, rather than the underserved and under-screened people in the Los Angeles community. Perhaps if the uniforms were also pink I would consider taking this more seriously.