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Bremerton police officers may get new look
Bremerton police officers might be getting a new look.
Chief Steve Strachan said the department is considering allowing officers, other than K-9 officers who have them already, to utilize jumpsuits while on the beat or patrol.
“The reasons are because they are better for patrol use, wear much longer and hold up for a longer period of time, saving tax dollars, and most importantly because they include a large reflective ‘POLICE’ on the back, which is better for visibility and officer safety, especially while conducting traffic stops at night on busy streets,” Strachan said. “The goal is increased visibility, longer wear, and lower cost, while still maintaining a professional image.”
Capt. Tom Wolfe, a member of the Bremerton Police Management Association, said many of the 50 members of the Bremerton Police Officers Guild whom he helps supervise, are excited about the possible change.
“Years ago, these things were shiny and pretty goofy looking,” Wolfe said of law enforcement jumpsuits. “This next-generation stuff looks really good and wears well compared to a regular uniform.”
Wolfe said the jumpsuits that are being considered move better, are more comfortable and are much better at keeping officers dry in inclement weather than traditional uniforms.
“You get soaking, soaking wet in a regular uniform out here in the rain,” he said.
Wolfe also said that jumpsuits are much more suited to the rough-and-tumble of everyday police work.
“Law enforcement is a full-contact sport where you’re trying to chase people and wrestle people,” he said. “Climbing around the blackberry bushes with people is not the easiest thing in the world.”
As things stand now, Wolfe said the department issues three short-sleeve shirts, three long-sleeve shirts and three pairs of pants that are repaired and replaced as needed.
“If a minor repair or patch is needed, we’ll do that for a while until it looks really bad, which is kind of subjective,” he added.
Wolfe said the shirts cost about $60-65 and the pants run about $70. A summer-weight jumpsuit runs about $340 and a winter-weight version costs about $370, he said.
The officers guild has been operating without a new contract since 2011 and is in mediation with the city, but officers now get their uniforms dry cleaned and pressed on the department’s dime. The jumpsuits, meanwhile, could be laundered by officers at home. Strachan, though, said “jumpsuits are not a major factor in negotiations and in fact are not really directly related at all.”
A few years ago, many officers and residents alike celebrated the BPD shift to black and white cruisers, a similarly marked change in the “look” of the department.
“Visibility is an important issue for all of us, and the black and white cars are highly visible and easy to see from a long distance,” Strachan said. “They also are easily recognizable as police (cars), even for non-English speakers.”
As part of ongoing strategic planning efforts, though, Strachan is making some tweaks to the cruisers as well.
“We are removing some of the extra decals from the cars as they are serviced because we want the cars to be easily recognizable and to have fewer markings so people can recognize them as police cars more easily … We have not gotten new black and white cars, we are just making the graphics simpler and easier to recognize.”