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New patches and striping on patrol vehicles complete the new image
by: Jaime Valdez, FACING THE FUTURE — Lt. Jim deSully, wearing a new Tigard Police Department uniform, stands by a patrol car bearing the new city logo and striping design.

TIGARD - In case you get pulled over by a cop, you might be too distracted to notice that he or she is wearing a brand-new uniform with a newly designed patch and other details. And if you look in your rear-view window at the red and blue lights flashing from the patrol car, you might see new decals on the patrol car parked behind you.

Yes, the Tigard Police Department has made some big changes to present a more professional and polished appearance to the public.

Under the direction of Chief Bill Dickinson, people in the department were encouraged to make suggestions and offer ideas for changes in the uniform.

'For years we wore the same uniforms as the Portland police,' said Lt. Jim deSully. 'Even the patches were similar. The uniforms were called Portland Blue - it was a special dye the manufacturer created.

'It was not mission critical to change but we eventually decided on the new look. The uniforms are very, very dark blue, almost black. Other agencies have gone to this style.'

According to deSully, lots of officers wanted cargo pockets on the pants, 'but the chief wanted them more civilian than military.'

'The chief was adamant that he wanted a traditional law-enforcement look, and the material had not changed in 40 years. We looked at different styles, looks, materials and durability. Durability is key because flares can destroy fabric, and we didn't want fabric that develops pills or snags. We were going through a lot of pants. Comfort and design also were important.'

The department contacted several manufacturers, and five or six officers would test-drive uniforms, wearing them for a month and then evaluating them.

'We wanted them to look crisp and clean,' deSully said. 'It wasn't about glitz and glory but about being professional. The one we settled on really stood out to us. It maintains its shape and is durable. It's 100 percent wool and breathes a lot better, but it does require dry-cleaning. And some people don't like wool.'

Eventually officers may have one or two wool uniforms plus perhaps a polyester-blend version, according to deSully.

The city pays for each officer to have three sets of uniforms, with each one consisting of a pair of pants plus a long-sleeved and a short-sleeved shirt.

'It's a three-year process for each officer to acquire all three sets,' deSully said. 'Right now I have one set of the new uniform. We will eventually have a deadline when you can't wear the old one.'

Uniform replacement is built into the department's budget, according to deSully.

'Almost everybody has their first uniform, and all new officers will get the new ones.'

The issue of changing the patches arose last year after the City Council chose a new city logo.

'The logo is on the uniforms and on the patrol cars,' deSully said. 'The old patches were much smaller. We wanted a bigger shoulder patch on each arm instead of the flag on one arm. We have the flag emblem on all the cars.'

Because the official logo is rectangular in shape, the police department received special permission to use a rounded version that better goes on the patches.

'I think it's neat,' deSully said.

Sergeants wear chevrons on their sleeves, and officers acquire service stripes to wear on their arms, but over the years, they were made in different shades of gold.

'Now all the gold and blue match,' deSully said. 'It flows better. If you look sharp and really good, you project a more positive image.

'The same is true with the cars. The shield is on the side, and there is a new stripe. I think the cars look pretty good. In our business, we have an image to maintain and expectations from the public to meet.'