The Changing Needs and Appearance of Law Enforcement

 

The Changing Needs and Appearance of Law Enforcement 

    Law enforcement and policing is certainly not what it was a few decades ago. With technological advances, a growing population, and more intense tactical situations and threats, police uniforms and gear have evolved to meet changes in the field. Many department uniform requirements have shifted from traditional to tactical with a greater focus on comfort and durability. Some officers have begun to wear body cameras to record their daily interactions and encounters on duty – which must be factored into the design of their uniform. The changing look and needs of law enforcement officers has become increasingly reflected in their gear. 

Traditional to Tactical 

    Police uniforms have drastically changed over the past 100 years. This is, in part, due to the change in the profession, the “fashion” of the time, and advancements in technology and gear that police don. Police uniforms in the early and mid-1900s closely resembled the soldiers’ uniforms of the time – often wearing blazers, a shirt and tie, and police cap for everyday wear. During the latter half of the century, many officers wore a professional dress uniform that more closely resembled civilian attire, moving away from the “military” look. After 9/11, police uniforms returned to a militarized style, often wearing body armor, tactical vests, and BDU style uniforms.  

    With greater populations come more widespread community policing and, in some cases, greater threats to the area. To combat threats and protect their communities, police officers require a uniform that’s comfortable, but doesn’t look unprofessional. One uniform style that has become popular among police officers is the relaxed yet professional Class B police uniform. A typical Class B uniform style is a mix of the traditional Class A police uniform and the tactical, BDU style of Class C uniforms. Class B uniforms typically consist of a relaxed fit shirt and pants with cargo pockets, made with a wash and wear material like polyester.

    In addition to a switch to more tactical style clothing, everyday police gear has also become more casual. In areas with warmer climates, or during the summer months, departments may allow officers to wear casual polo shirts and shorts, or a uniform made with a more breathable material. Summer uniforms may be paired with baseball caps or visors.

    Special operations officers or officers that are sent out during large protests or crowd control may wear a tactical Class C uniform often paired with some kind of PPE for ballistic protection. BDU tactical shirts and tactical pants are characterized by multiple tactical pockets, an athletic, military style, and the use of comfortable ripstop cotton among other lightweight materials. BDU uniforms are often worn with body armor and tactical headwear.   

The Rise of PPE

    The adoption of tactical, militarized gear after 9/11 coincided with the rise of PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, for law enforcement. For less serious threats and situations, officers may utilize PPE such as a shield, bulletproof vest, or helmet. However, law enforcement officers now face greater danger than ever before with the risk of exposure to deadly blood or air borne pathogens and chemicals that cannot be combatted by a standard bullet proof vest or police weapon.  First responders have begun to utilize CBRN and HAZMAT gear for protection against serious terror or chemical warfare threats. Masks, respirators, goggles, and other more heavy duty tactical gear may be used in these serious situations as well. 

Body Worn Cameras 

    One piece of technology that has been implemented by some police officers in more recent is the body worn camera.  According to the US Department of Justice some of the perceived benefits of body-worn cameras are strengthening police accountability, preventing confrontation, resolving officer-related incidents, and improving transparency. The everyday use of body cameras has received a mixed response from the law enforcement community. Regardless, if a department requires officers to wear a body camera they must factor it into their daily uniform and daily gear. Our new body worn camera mount allows the wearer to mount their camera wherever the officer would like on the front of the uniform shirt. By sewing the durable, nylon mount in place the body camera will remain secure and won’t compromise everyday performance. 

New Challenges = New Gear

    With a rise in domestic and international terrorism, chemical warfare, heightened tactical situations, and a larger population to police, law enforcement officers and first responders need gear to stand up to the challenge and to protect both themselves and their communities. 

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