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What are the Different Types of Law Enforcement Uniforms?

Erin Oxendine
Erin Oxendine

There are different law enforcement uniforms for each branch of law enforcement. Depending on the agency the officer works with, the uniform may vary greatly. Each division also decides what equipment to issue with the uniform.

According to historians, the first police department to issue law enforcement uniforms was the London Metropolitan Police Department. This agency started issuing uniforms in the year 1829. New York City became the first police department in the United States to have officers wear uniforms in 1853. Other countries and jurisdictions have since made uniforms a part of their police force.

Generally, the uniforms are dark in color with matching pants and shirts. Bicycle patrol officers can usually wear shorts in warm weather. The officer’s outfit also includes a formal dress hat typically worn for specific occasions or at funerals.

A police officer's badge.
A police officer's badge.

Law enforcement badges are standard on all uniforms. These badges identify the department and the name of the officer. An officer may get an additional badge for the number of years he or she has been on the force. If an officer receives an award or special training, the person will receive a badge as a form of recognition.

Other items that are part of law enforcement uniforms are gloves, boots, and holster belts. Most departments have specific jackets, as well. Often, the name of the agency the officer works with is on the back of the jacket in bold capital letters. A vital part of each officer’s uniform is a bulletproof vest and can be concealed or worn outside the uniform.

When directing traffic, officers wear an orange vest. This helps drivers to see the police officer in the road. Many agencies issue yellow nylon jackets to keep the officer dry if standing out in the rain.

A bulletproof vest.
A bulletproof vest.

Crime scene investigators who work with law enforcement agencies typically do not have a standard uniform. Some departments may require investigators to wear law enforcement uniforms when at a scene. Other representatives usually just wear professional looking attire. An investigator would also wear gloves and a department identification badge.

Military police wear uniforms specific to his or her military branch. These personnel also have helmets that have identification on the front. Officers wear arm badges and buttons to indicate rank.

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    • A police officer's badge.
      By: Carl Wycoff
      A police officer's badge.
    • A bulletproof vest.
      A bulletproof vest.