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Town police are making the transition to new uniforms, changing their patrol officers’ garb from gray shirts and black pants to garments that are dark blue.
The changeover is now occurring, with all uniformed officers expected to be wearing the dark blue clothing by October 1, said Police Chief James Viadero. As was the case in the past, police will wear lightweight short-sleeved shirts in the warmer weather and heavier long-sleeved shirts during cooler periods.
Chief Viadero explained that because few police departments use the gray/black combination of colors, the town police department’s uniforms had become expensive items. The dark blue uniforms, which are widely worn by police departments, cost much less — approximately half the cost, he said. Police officers are provided with annual uniform allowances to acquire the clothing.
During the past several months, several police officers have been wearing the new uniforms to test their practicality and suitability to the task of police patrol work, he said. The new uniforms will be easier garments to maintain, according to Chief Viadero.
Chief Viadero described the uniform changeover as, “Rebranding the department, a little bit.”
One symbolic element of the uniform that is being maintained is the multicolored oval fabric shoulder patch, which includes colorful images of the Main Street flagpole and Newtown Meeting House.
“A blue uniform signifies law enforcement… especially in the Northeast,” he said. “Everybody recognizes that a blue uniform is ‘law enforcement,’” he said. “I just think they look a lot more professional,” he added. “We’re keeping in line with contemporary police practices,” Chief Viadero said.
As a practical matter, it makes more sense for police to wear dark uniforms in the nighttime when they make motor vehicle stops, he said. In such cases, a police officer’s body is less visible to the motorists whom they stop in the dark of the night.
The new uniforms will continue to have an embroidered badge and officer surname, rather than a metallic badge and metallic name tag.
In early 2015, town police started their last uniform changeover, moving from a uniform very similar to that worn by state police to the clothing that they have been wearing since then.
Before the town police department was organized in 1971, local police had functioned as a constabulary under the command of a resident state trooper. Consequently, for decades the uniforms of town police were very similar to those of the state police, in terms of general design, color, and trim.
State police uniforms “look nice” but are not very practical for police patrol work, Chief Viadero said.
The police department’s dress uniforms will remain unchanged. Police wear such garb during ceremonial occasions.