Dec 18 2011

Police uniform thoughts

I haven’t been too keen on police uniforms in the UK for some time. With all the changes in equipment over the years, particularly with the addition of the stab-vests/webbing that everything hangs from, it’s made it look rather ad-hoc as well as making it a lot heavier for the officers. And while there’s a definite cost involved, at some point there’s got to be a review to redress this and boil down all the add-ons into singular combined pieces of equipment, lest the domestic police officer end up hauling backpacks of gear around like Marines on a march.

Last night something specific crystallised about it though, and that’s the high-visibility jackets and patches that are now part of the selection.

I don’t know about you, but I associate high-visibility jackets with emergencies; officers or paramedics dragging wounded people to safety, running into burning buildings, floods, disasters, high-peril, high-drama events.

And I think for that reason it’s made me more wary of police patrols. I know it may sound silly, but by donning those same jackets it’s taken an approachable, respectable entity that’s supposed to be a part of a community and turned them into walking ominous suggestions that we’re in an emergency whenever they’re around.

The jackets make me think of disasters rather than safety. And I suspect if you stop to think about it, others would agree.

I doubt anything will be done about it though. To incorporate things like stab-vests, utility-belts, visibility aids and communications into would take time and effort to test, refine and deploy. I’m sure there are more than a few maker/hacker/artistic types like myself who’d leap at the chance to add some oil to smooth the grinding gears of society like this, but frankly even if we came up with a magical ideal new kit layup it would never see use as there are vested interests in legacy supply-chains. What an independent agent or company could make in-house for a tiny budget, a supplier will charge hundreds of times more for (as well as angling to further lock you in to them in future (EG; proprietary communications systems, maintenance contracts, promise of discounts)).

That said though, assuming you already had designs, getting equipment manufactured on a bespoke basis (sending the design out for manufacture by a generic 3rd party) would come in a LOT cheaper. The only issues that might remain are again how much sway those existing supply chains can pressure the decision-makers on choosing it or similarly influence those that decide whether equipment meets specification (as has happened before, altering spec so only one pre-selected choice is possible).

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