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December 17, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Extreme makeover: Seattle police edition


Seattle police officers wear their current style of uniforms during a recent investigation at 41st and Roosevelt Way. Police will soon get new uniforms, navy blue in color. (Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times)

Seattle police are ditching their two-tone blue uniforms and replacing them with solid navy blue slacks and shirts.

The monochromatic move, long discussed by the rank-and-file, has been pushed by Chief Kathleen O’Toole, said Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Ron Smith.

“They’ll be LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) blue with a new shoulder patch,” said Smith, describing the new uniforms.

Implementing the uniform change has been negotiated through the union, something Smith believes is nearly a done deal.

Each current Seattle police officer – there are more than 1,000 — has at least one of the two-tone uniforms.

When a new officer is hired, the department pays for their uniforms and gives all officers a $550 annual uniform stipend, Smith said.

“Now that they’re changing the uniform they have to figure out how to pay for it; everybody already has a closet full of uniforms,” Smith said. “If you’re in patrol you need at least three sets: one on you are wearing, one is at the dry cleaner and one backup.”

Smith said he and O’Toole have reached an agreement that the department will give each officer $850 next month to go toward their new uniforms. Smith said officers will be required to switch to the new uniforms by March 1.

O’Toole said she met with Smith on Wednesday to finalize the new uniform policy, which is close to being adopted.

“I respect tradition,” she said of the old uniforms. But she noted that more than 70 percent of officers favored the new duds.

The new uniforms will cost $96.95 for pants, $95 for long-sleeve shirts and $85 for short-sleeve shirts, Smith said.

The current uniforms are a dry clean-only wool blend. An employee at Blumenthal’s Uniforms in North Seattle said the new uniforms have less wool in them and are machine-washable.

While having a machine-washable uniform is an advantage, another perk is that the new uniforms will allow officers to wear their bullet-proof vests over their shirts, Smith said. With the current two-tone uniforms, officers must wear vests underneath their shirts.

“When you’re at the station you will now be able to take off your vest instead of  taking off your vest and shirt,” Smith said.

Plus, Smith said, the two-tone uniforms are hard to keep clean.

“In the summertime, there is nothing worse than perspiration stains underneath your arms,” he said.

Seattle police also will be debuting new shoulder patches on their new uniforms, Smith said.

He said the new patches were carefully designed and will be introduced by O’Toole.

Smith praised the new patch, saying the current patch, which is red, blue and yellow, resembles “scrambled eggs.”

In keeping with change, police are also replacing their light-blue patrol cars with navy-colored cars, Smith said.

As the department phases out its fleet of Ford Crown Victoria sedans in favor of Ford Taurus Police Interceptors and a small portion of Ford Explorers, the new cars will hit the streets in the new color scheme, Smith said.



Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Seattle Police Department, Seattle Police Officers' Guild, uniforms


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