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Reefmonkey

New Houston Police Uniforms

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HPD is apparently considering replacing its 1960s-era uniforms with navy blue or black military-style Battle Dress Utility (BDU) style uniforms. I am very much opposed to this change. To quote the NYT:

But beyond such symbolic and formal similarities, American law and tradition have tried to draw a clear line between police and military forces. To cast the roles of the two too closely, those in and out of law enforcement say, is to mistake the mission of each. Soldiers, after all, go to war to destroy, and kill the enemy. The police, who are supposed to maintain the peace, “are the citizens, and the citizens are the police,” according to Chief Walter A. McNeil of Quincy, Fla., the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, citing the words of Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern-day policing.

You drive through Mexico, and see federal police and military out in their military fatigues, it is scary and depressing. I don't want that for Houston. I also think that whoever is considering this change is pretty clueless about HPD's serious image problem. Police officers out on the street should look accessible, approachable, like public servants ready to help, not an intimidating paramilitary occupying force.

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Absolutely agree. The militarization of the nation's police forces has a direct impact on the way police interact with citizens. Not only do HPD and HCSO refuse to install dashboard video to protect both citizens and cops, they now want to dress like the SS as well.

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One sure way to annoy a cop is to point out that any officer who isn't in the military is a "civilian", just like the rest of us. I hate the whole us vs them attitude law enforcement seems to embrace. They forget who they work for, and that the Constitution makes their jobs more difficult for a reason.

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We don't need to give civilian law enforcement any more reason to believe that they're a paramilitary. I am absolutely opposed to BDUs. I wonder where I can submit public comment on this...

Edited by kylejack
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We don't need to give civilian law enforcement any more reason to believe that they're a paramilitary. I am absolutely opposed to BDUs. I wonder where I can submit public comment on this...

Make a cardboard sign and hold it up near their downtown headquarters...

Don't get arrested.

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You can speak to city council. Let me know if you decide to go. I may join you. You can also send email to police chief. Make sure to point out the detrioration of community opinions of militarized police. It is real.

Edited by RedScare

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Perhaps it is a response to the nature of modern crime.

I think it is more likely a combination a desire to be more military-like by some officers as well as part of the general public tendency to dress more and more casually in the name of "comfort". I put "comfort" in quotations because I think people convince themselves that the more casual clothes are, the more comfortable they will be.

I'm not THAT old (36), but I remember when it was common to dress up, even for kids, when taking an airplane flight. Now you see people in shorts, t-shirts, and flipflops on airplanes all the time. It annoys me to see teenage girls dressed in flipflops, short "gym" shorts, and t-shirts, hauling their full-sized pillows around airports and onto flights. I am sure they have convinced themselves that is the most comfortable outfit they can wear for their "long" flight from to Orlando. My thoughts:

1. How practical are flipflops for walking long distances through airport terminals?

2. Airplanes are cold, and blankets are less and less common. I can't help smirking a little when I see one of these girls shivering on an airplane.

3. Airplane seats are loaded with bacteria, I don't want my bare skin touching them.

4. That pillow? Why would you want to drag something through a dirty airport, through an x-ray machine, and into a germy plane and then put your face on it? Plus, with coach seats being as narrow as they are, cabin space being as limited as it is, it is really inconsiderate to the person next to you.

It used to be that when you saw a member of the military traveling commercial, they were always in their Class A, and looked very sharp. Now I can understand ditching the coat and tie for comfort, going with a Class B, but now you always see them in the Combat Uniform (successor of BDU, or "fatigues"). I am sorry, but I traveled coach regularly between Houston and Tokyo in my old job, and always wore slacks and a longsleeved collared shirt (similar to a class B )and was plenty comfortable.

It's a little bit of a digression, but I think you see the connection - even the military has gone casual almost all the time, and it is part of a general attitude that is unfortunate. However, I believe that police officers, in order to get the respect they believe they always deserve, need to look the part - smart, professional, but not military. Dress for service to citizens, not combat with them

Edited by Reefmonkey

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You can speak to city council. Let me know if you decide to go. I may join you. You can also send email to police chief. Make sure to point out the detrioration of community opinions of militarized police. It is real.

Count me in on that as well.

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I think they should go back to the 1880's uniform shown in the chron article. That said, here's a picture (purportedly) of the new uniform:

Police+Uniform.jpg

Not as bad as I had been thinking...

Since someone brought up the SS, here's a Gestapo uniform for comparison...

4518e88d2D96c22D4b032Da1652D336261c79a77gesta1.JPG

It's more like the HPD 1918 uniform. But then so were most police uniforms during the early-mid 20th century. I'm thinking adding dash cams is a lot bigger issue than this new uniform.

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Perhaps it is a response to the nature of modern crime.

And what is so different about the nature of "modern crime" that would require militarized police?

I think Gestapo comparisons are way OTT.

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Houston cops wear BDUs today. BDU in material and plethora of pockets, not in color (they are the same color as their normal pants)

Sorry I couldn't find a better photo...

628x4713.jpg

The new uniforms that August posted, look to be the exact same as now, except for color. I'm sure if they have a BDU pants option, it would go mostly unnoticed, like it does today.

It makes sense that most PDs would have a more tactical alternative uniform.

Personally.. I think the most tactically advantageous uniform, the least restrictive, would be the following.....

store_Houston%20Police%20Pipe%20Band.jpg

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I think they should go back to the 1880's uniform shown in the chron article. That said, here's a picture (purportedly) of the new uniform:

Police+Uniform.jpg

Not as bad as I had been thinking...

I have to say, that's not as bad as I thought it would be, considering the description, and what I know BDUs to generally look like. I picture the German name for WWII era American paratroopers, whose jump uniforms were the progenitors of modern BDUs: "The butchers in baggy pants." Usually BDUs are a lot baggier, with lots of cargo pockets. Plus military BDUs generally don't come in short sleeve. I think the short-sleeve shirts are what really neuters most threatening aspects of this uniform. I would like to see it without the vest, though.

Too bad it isn't a full body shot so we can't see if the trousers are bloused into the boots or not. Blousing is a particularly military way of dress that I think should be banned by HPD, but I see it all the time.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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Houston cops wear BDUs today. BDU in material and plethora of pockets, not in color (they are the same color as their normal pants)

Sorry I couldn't find a better photo...

628x4713.jpg

I think you hit it right there. BDU cloth, that's fine. Some cargo pockets on the pants, that's not too bad, but the problem is when you mix that with a shirt of the same color, and the tendency I observe with increasing frequency to blouse the pants into a combat-style boot, you have a very military-looking uniform on what is supposed to be a civilian force.

Keep the pants from being too baggy (and the shirt as well), have regulations against blousing the pants into boots, and have the shirt be a different color, and I don't have a problem.

(PS: Is that cop a guy or a really flat-chested woman?)

Edited by Reefmonkey

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After reading all this, I think I think everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill.

For me, the uniform simply is more functional then the old uniform. The boots would be far better use while pursing a suspect over rougher terrain (i.e. not on sidewalks) as well as offer a better grip over concrete surfaces.

Supposedly, the material will allow them to be cooler and allow them to take their bullet proof vests on and off more easily when inside a station.

Now, if you prefer them to utilize a uniform over a bullet proof vest on a 90-100 degree day that isn't that breathable to begin with, along with pants that can be easily torn wearing shoes that can easily slip and slide even on a concrete surface during a foot chase, then I can see your complaining about it.

Screw the police, they don't need a practical uniform.

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After reading all this, I think I think everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill.

The concerns were very legitimate. If you drive into several of the smaller towns surrounding Houston, you will find numerous officers in navy blue or black BDUs, in cargo pant style, puffed over lace up boots. Often, they will combine this look with a tee shirt or knit shirt with an embroidered badge and 'POLICE' across the back. It is virtual SWAT gear, and these guys are cruising for speeders in that getup. It is a total paramilitary look, and it has an effect on both the officer wearing it, and the civilians looking at it.

By way of contrast, the new HPD uniform has little of the paramilitary look that concerned me. The shirts and pants look comfortable, but also like civilian police, not MPs. The vests are unfortunate, but completely necessary. And, I completely understand Houston's climate necessitating wearing them over the shirt, rather than under it.

Now, about those cameras...

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And what is so different about the nature of "modern crime" that would require militarized police?

I think Gestapo comparisons are way OTT.

More shootings/shootouts. A general increase in the number of people who have less to lose if they commit violent crimes. And with easy access to guns.

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I think you hit it right there. BDU cloth, that's fine. Some cargo pockets on the pants, that's not too bad, but the problem is when you mix that with a shirt of the same color, and the tendency I observe with increasing frequency to blouse the pants into a combat-style boot, you have a very military-looking uniform on what is supposed to be a civilian force.

Keep the pants from being too baggy (and the shirt as well), have regulations against blousing the pants into boots, and have the shirt be a different color, and I don't have a problem.

(PS: Is that cop a guy or a really flat-chested woman?)

She's a female. She was top of the last HPD cadet class (class 162 I think). This was taken about 2-3 weeks ago. I was there.

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More shootings/shootouts. A general increase in the number of people who have less to lose if they commit violent crimes. And with easy access to guns.

Bullsheet. Police are killing civilians in record numbers, but cop deaths are at near historic low rates. In 2011, 68 cops were shot dead. In contrast, cops killed 54 civilians in Los Angeles County ALONE. Nationwide, it is in the hundreds, possibly thousands. We don't know an exact number, since the police curiously do not keep a record of the people they kill.

Actions have consequences. When police shoot at civilians, some of them will shoot back. Further, the dramatic rise in drug war SWAT raids increases the chance for violence. Police should look at their own escalation of violence when looking for the cause of last year's increase in deaths. And you should quit falling for their propaganda.

By the way, in 2008, 40 officers died by gunfire, the LOWEST number in over 50 years. Homicide rates are also at their lowest rates in 50 years. Your statement is a fabrication.

Edited by RedScare

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After reading all this, I think I think everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill.

For me, the uniform simply is more functional then the old uniform. The boots would be far better use while pursing a suspect over rougher terrain (i.e. not on sidewalks) as well as offer a better grip over concrete surfaces.

Supposedly, the material will allow them to be cooler and allow them to take their bullet proof vests on and off more easily when inside a station.

Now, if you prefer them to utilize a uniform over a bullet proof vest on a 90-100 degree day that isn't that breathable to begin with, along with pants that can be easily torn wearing shoes that can easily slip and slide even on a concrete surface during a foot chase, then I can see your complaining about it.

Screw the police, they don't need a practical uniform.

You are seriously distorting people's concerns.

1. No one is saying police shouldn't wear combat-style boots. We are just saying that they shouldn't blouse their trousers into the tops of the boots. They're not paratroopers.

2. No one said police shouldn't be allowed to wear the bulletproof vest over the shirt.

3. No one said that they had to wear pants that could be "easily torn" - no one had a problem with them wearing clothing made with mil-spec fabric, only with the military styling in the cut of the uniforms.

So, basically, your post was pretty irrelevant.

And, I'll guess unlike me you've never had to wear longsleeve nomex clothing on a hot day, or worn a lifevest during a day of kayaking, so you don't realize one's body gets used to wearing this stuff. And most cops I see could easily make themselves more comfortable in the heat by losing that extra 30-50 pounds of body fat most of them carry around.

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By way of contrast, the new HPD uniform has little of the paramilitary look that concerned me. The shirts and pants look comfortable, but also like civilian police, not MPs. The vests are unfortunate, but completely necessary. And, I completely understand Houston's climate necessitating wearing them over the shirt, rather than under it.

I agree, IF that is the uniform that is being considered. You know how it is, though, a lot of different potential replacements usually get considered. This could be one of the early entrants. The reason I think that is there is nothing about this uniform that would qualify it as BDU - BDU was a very specific cut of uniform, and this lacks most of the characteristics - especially cut of pants.

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Actions have consequences. When police shoot at civilians, some of them will shoot back. Further, the dramatic rise in drug war SWAT raids increases the chance for violence. Police should look at their own escalation of violence when looking for the cause of last year's increase in deaths. And you should quit falling for their propaganda.

By the way, in 2008, 40 officers died by gunfire, the LOWEST number in over 50 years. Homicide rates are also at their lowest rates in 50 years. Your statement is a fabrication.

Do you suppose that there might be a causal relationship between civilian deaths-by-cop and a reduction in crime rate?

I mean, personally I'm on board with the 'Freakonomics' explanation that much (albeit not all) of the long-term decline in the violent crime rate can be attributed to abortion, which culls a segment of the population that is disproportionately prone to commit crime. However, if a disproportionate number of civilians shot dead by police are criminals, then can't we think of such occurrences as having the same general effect of abortions? So it's basically post-partum abortion, albeit typically involuntary and brought about by the actions of the state.

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Do you suppose that there might be a causal relationship between civilian deaths-by-cop and a reduction in crime rate?

I mean, personally I'm on board with the 'Freakonomics' explanation that much (albeit not all) of the long-term decline in the violent crime rate can be attributed to abortion, which culls a segment of the population that is disproportionately prone to commit crime. However, if a disproportionate number of civilians shot dead by police are criminals, then can't we think of such occurrences as having the same general effect of abortions? So it's basically post-partum abortion, albeit typically involuntary and brought about by the actions of the state.

I don't see how one could come to any other conclusion than that the demise of a criminal still young enough to be committing crimes would lower the number of future crimes committed by that individual. It is likely a statistically insignificant drop, but a drop nonetheless. To the extent that police kill the innocent, no corresponding drop in crime could be expected. Further, if the person killed commits crimes at a rate lower than the community-wide crime rate, the resulting drop in population (by one) would not lead to a lower rate of crime.

Not that any of this could be seen as a justification of cops killing civilians, any more than vigilantism can be justified. Whatever benefits are received by the death of a criminal are far outweighed by the loss of order through anarchy. And, as power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, allowing the unfettered killing of civilians by government agents will quickly turn into genocide.

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... Whatever benefits are received by the death of a criminal are far outweighed by the loss of order through anarchy. And, as power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, allowing the unfettered killing of civilians by government agents will quickly turn into genocide.

Interesting comment, considering your logo.

Just sayin'. :)

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Interesting comment, considering your logo.

Just sayin'. :)

Not really. Acknowledging the logical conclusion that a person who would commit numerous crimes in the future can no longer do so if dead, does not lead to me advocating the killing of criminals. A consequence of living in a free society is that some members of that society will use that freedom to take advantage of others. We accept that consequence in order to be free ourselves. There are numerous examples of low crime nations ruled by oppressive governments. Most of us would rather not make the trade.

Would you?

Edited by RedScare

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Whatever benefits are received by the death of a criminal are far outweighed by the loss of order through anarchy. And, as power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, allowing the unfettered killing of civilians by government agents will quickly turn into genocide.

That's a slippery slope and a fairly loose definition of the term, 'genocide'. If I were so inclined to play my words so fast and so loose, I could probably figure out a way to say the same thing about Heights historic districts or the property tax appeal process.

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Eh, I was having writer's block, and couldn't come with a word for government sponsored slaughter of its own citizens. I chose the closest word I could think of, and chose poorly.

So shoot me.

So to speak.

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Bullsheet. Police are killing civilians in record numbers, but cop deaths are at near historic low rates. In 2011, 68 cops were shot dead. In contrast, cops killed 54 civilians in Los Angeles County ALONE. Nationwide, it is in the hundreds, possibly thousands. We don't know an exact number, since the police curiously do not keep a record of the people they kill.

Actions have consequences. When police shoot at civilians, some of them will shoot back. Further, the dramatic rise in drug war SWAT raids increases the chance for violence. Police should look at their own escalation of violence when looking for the cause of last year's increase in deaths. And you should quit falling for their propaganda.

By the way, in 2008, 40 officers died by gunfire, the LOWEST number in over 50 years. Homicide rates are also at their lowest rates in 50 years. Your statement is a fabrication.

Hogwash. If the civilians would not get into trouble in the first place they might not be dead now. If the civilians would just shut up and show the officer their hands (like the one illegal who refused to do so just recently) then they would likely not be dead today. If by civilians you mean criminals, then Im not sure I see a problem.

Of those 54 in LA... how many pointed a gun at the officer? How may charged or fought with the officer? I'm quite certain the 54 were not just randomly walking down the street minding their own business. Please.

As for the drug was SWAT raids... don't do drugs.

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1. How practical are flipflops for walking long distances through airport terminals?

Interestingly I'm in my mid 30s as well.

Being that I made a conscious decision years ago to only wear flip flops unless I am at work, or otherwise have to dress up (wedding, funeral, club, nice dinner, etc) I feel I have an experienced opinion on this subject.

I've walked all over Europe (sometimes up to 20 miles a day) been on many hiking trips, I even wear them when I'm all bundled up in cold weather gear and the worst I've had to put up with is dirty toes. With that in mind, flip flops are very practical, they're light, if your feet get wet, they dry off quickly, there's plenty of other benefits.

I don't believe I'm going to tackle Everest in flip flops, but being able to slip off the flip flops on a 3 hour, or longer flight (and slip them back on for a trip to the lavatory), it's very nice. Granted, if you're squeamish about germs, the 15 feet you have to walk without shoes at security will be agony, but I ate plenty of dirt when I was a kid, so I'm pretty sure I'm okay.

On the subject at hand, a polo and some khakis should be good, I'm certainly not a fan of them wearing military styled gear. I've been to places where cops dress like that, and wouldn't like it to be that way here.

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On the subject at hand, a polo and some khakis should be good, I'm certainly not a fan of them wearing military styled gear. I've been to places where cops dress like that, and wouldn't like it to be that way here.

I'm not sure having police look like waiters at TGI Fridays is a good idea either.

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No kidding. It is not that hard to have a uniform that commands respect, but that does not invoke images of an occupying military force. Pants and shirts can be made of a comfortable fabric that allows athletic movement without being designed as military fatigues. Shoes can have rubber soles without being paratrooper boots. The insinuation that all cops do all day is chase criminals is a fallacy. In fact, it is not that common, and if cops really are that concerned about chasing thugs, they should lose the 20 pound belt around their waist. A lot of them probably need to get in shape, as well.

This push toward military style uniforms comes largely from younger officers. It raises concerns what kind of officer the police departments are recruiting when so many new officers seem to forget that we have a civilian police force. I hope that theose in charge of making these decisions can...and have...read the US Constitution.

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I hope that theose in charge of making these decisions can...and have...read the US Constitution.

I'm willing to bet $100,000 that they have not.

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This push toward military style uniforms comes largely from younger officers. It raises concerns what kind of officer the police departments are recruiting when so many new officers seem to forget that we have a civilian police force.

Cap'n Crunch coined a term for this: tacticool. Being a gun nut, he (and sometimes me) spends a lot of time at gun shows, stores, ranges, and mingles with a lot of law enforement. The younger the guy, the more it is about the gear, and looking the part. I can't help but contextualize it within a couple decades worth of ultra-violent male gaming culture. Young thugs ramp up their image and voilence, young cops are the flip side of the same coin.

Same thing with overzealous citizens. Go the Arms Room in League City--it's hard not to giggle at the chubby young dads with their little mouth rugs, decked out in crazy technical gear like they're auditioning for The Expendables III.

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I'm not sure having police look like waiters at TGI Fridays is a good idea either.

How many pieces of flair will a cop have to wear?

"you know, the Nazis had pieces of flair they made the Jews wear."

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This push toward military style uniforms comes largely from younger officers. It raises concerns what kind of officer the police departments are recruiting when so many new officers seem to forget that we have a civilian police force.

Bingo.

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