Magazine article Law & Order

Guest Editorial: Dinosaur Uniforms

Magazine article Law & Order

Guest Editorial: Dinosaur Uniforms

Article excerpt

I am a dinosaur, at least figuratively. I began my career in 1977 for a major Midwestern police department. In the eyes of most in the law enforcement community, those who began their careers in the late-1970s are relics from the Pleistocene era.

The uniforms were typical of the era: light blue cotton shirts with military creases, dark blue pants, and black oxfords. The equipment belt and pants belt were identical 1 ¾-inch Garrison belts, which were expected to hold all the essentials: our revolver (told you I was a dinosaur), six extra loose cartridges in a dump pouch, handcuffs and straight wooden baton. In the winter, it was long-sleeved shuts and ties, a waist-length leather jacket and wool, round crown uniform hats.

From a tactical standpoint, the uniforms probably could not have gotten any worse! Hot in summer, cold in winter, with belts that stretched and curled and provided no meaningful support to our security Level 0 holsters.

Yet, somehow, we survived, and even thrived, and we were effective and efficient in our duties. Looking back, I'm amazed that we were able to perform as well as we did, considering the millstone of antiquated gear with which we were equipped.

Working in the uniform of the day back then meant that when you pulled up on the corner and told everyone to leave, they left without comment, without expectorating on the ground and without question. Stopping a traffic violator, responding to a call for service, people responded with respect. Perhaps they grudgingly responded with respect, but the respect was there all the same. …

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