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Ask the Chief: Police uniform is about more than color

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman

"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: Why do police officers wear blue uniforms?

A: In 1845 the first police department in the United States was established in New York, and the dark navy blue color was chosen after London's police department uniform. London chose the color blue to distinguish police officers from the British military red uniform and to help them blend with the average citizen.

To this day, the majority of police departments in the United States continue to select and wear a dark navy blue uniform, the shoulder patch and the size and shape of the badge is what sets each department apart.

There are several advantages of this dark navy blue color, it is much easier to clean and maintain than a lighter/brighter color, and the dark color makes it harder to see the officer at night, which increases officer safety.

For more on the symbolism and benefits of the blue uniform, review "The psychological influence of the police uniform" link listed in the references below.

The uniform can invoke various emotions when interacting with citizens, based on their prior contact and experiences, therefore it is vital that officers interact with citizens with respect and professionalism to create a more positive impression and feelings when the uniform is present.

The RWPD's reservists wear light blue; sheriff's deputies wear brown; and the Minnesota State Patrol wear maroon and gold.

Resources

1. How the U.S. Got its Police Force time.com/4779112/police-history-origins/

2. The History of Policing in the United States

https://plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/history-policing-united-states-part-1

3. The psychological influence of the police uniform

https://www.policeone.com/police-products/apparel/uniforms/articles/9941...