Later this fall you may not recognize our Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers. Starting in October, new uniforms will be issued to all sworn officers through the rank of Sergeant.

The light blue shirt and dark cargo pants you are used to seeing will be replaced by a navy blue shirt and a navy trouser pant. The changes were made due to issues presented by the current uniform.

The cargo pants used today contain pockets that hold pieces of equipment. Though it provides easy access for certain items, the weight makes the pants heavy and a challenge to move in. The current gun belt is also substantial. Many officers complain about back and hip pain due to the combined weight. Crisp navy blue trouser pants and a light-weight gun belt will replace them.

The biggest aesthetic change will be with the uniform’s shirt. The new shirt is made of a durable, polyester/jersey washable material. It is more widely available, also making it a more economical option. Another benefit of the new shirt design is that it will allow officers to wear their vests over it.

The design of the current shirt does not allow the officers to wear a bullet-resistant vest over it. The vest is large and would cover their badge and name tag. Consequently, officers wear the vests under their shirts. The current vests are heavy and its texture causes the officers to sweat. Skin irritations and rashes are not uncommon.

The new bullet-resistant vest will have areas for officers to affix their badge and name tag. In addition, the vest contains multiple pockets that are designed to hold the various pieces of equipment currently stored in the pockets of the cargo pants.

Currently the location of the body-worn camera can vary slightly from one officer to another. With the new uniform it is stowed neatly in the top center of the vest between the name tag and badge. The vest and the shirt meld seamlessly together.

The vest can also be easily removed when the officers are at their assigned police stations. Tasks such as writing reports or having a meeting can be done in more comfort without the heavy vest.

Kristen Metzger of the MPD Office of Communications noted that the “clean lines, trim tailoring and durable fabric on the shirts will ensure that our members can more comfortably do their jobs, and look good doing it.” As someone who spent many hours of my childhood helping to launder and spot remove my father’s security guard uniform shirts (light blue), the navy shirt color may be beneficial to officers and their families in other ways too.

BY Georgine Wallace

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