Police officers wearing cheaper, more comfortable uniforms
Hilliard's police officers are sporting new, more comfortable uniforms.
At a recent budget hearing, Chief Doug Francis told council members, "As part of our whole idea about being cost-effective, we were looking at different uniforms. The uniforms we wear are very expensive. They're expensive to purchase, and they're expensive to maintain. They're also very uncomfortable. Whoever invented police uniforms, they weren't in it for the comfort."
A committee was put together to design a new uniform, a polyester blend without the wool of the traditional police uniform. The new uniforms are more breathable and provide more stretch for the officers.
"From the very beginning of the year I instructed all of the officers: we're not going to replace anyone's uniforms this year," Francis said. "If you want new uniforms, that's fine, but we're not buying the old stuff. So we're able to purchase these new uniforms with the same amount of money we would have purchased the old ones with."
What's unusual about the new uniforms is that everything is embroidered into the uniform – badges, nametags and rank insignias.
"There's absolutely no medals on it," Francis said. "We spend $3,000 a year refinishing badges. That's what it costs to keep our badges shiny. With these uniforms, we won't have that excessive cost. It's out there and it looks good."
In addition, the uniforms are wash-and-wear, meaning the officers will care for the uniform themselves, instead of sending it to the dry cleaners. Officer Jon Gleason, who was on the uniform committee, said that to wash his uniform, he sets the washing machine on the gentle cycle, puts it into the dryer for 15-20 minutes and then puts it on a clothes hanger.
Officer Hyda Slone said the traditional Class A uniforms will still be worn at parades, special events and public appearances, but the new Class B will be worn while on duty.
"The Class B is friendly to officers on the street for chasing, running, the whole nine yards," Slone said. "They also look pretty good, too."
"I notice while driving and routine patrol in the cruiser with the window down, I'm able to get a decent amount of airflow coming not only through the shirt but also through the pants as well to regulate the body temperature," Gleason said.
The traditional uniforms "can be very warm," Gleason said. "We start getting into the summer months where you have humidity and temperatures around here of 80-90 degrees, they're not exactly the most breathable items to be wearing, especially when you're putting a bulletproof vest on underneath them and trying to go through your duties."