In downtown Oakland, a block from the the police station, I saw 6 police, all smiles and laughs, perhaps on their way to lunch. I get nervous around police, I get a little skittish. After I calmed down, I thought, I could bust one of these shop windows and they would not be able to catch me. I am in running shoes, jogger pants and a tee shirt versus the cops in hard black oxfords, belted pants, shirt and some in neckties. None of the clothing looked comfortable, yet alone conducive to give chase. Why are police uniforms the way they are?
Police uniforms resemble a variation of a military uniform when it seems something similar to sports attire would work better. Policing in the US came to prominence in the 1800s as an evolution of slave catchers. Maybe inherent in my DNA is to run from the police. But, I digress, back to those uniforms. Is it a cultural belief that a military uniform presents as power and control? With modern policing not even 100 years old, are we that tied to the concept of police uniforms? Have I overlooked something? In a time when the business world as embraced business casual, other professions like, medicine allow comfort in clothing shouldn’t the uniform change a little?
Yes, the police have been under scrutiny about all sorts of things. Funny to me is, there are demands for substantial change in policing based on incidents and data. Do we expect change when the obvious, the uniforms do not appear to be conducive to the job? This week, observe the obvious, are there things we’ve accepted that seriously need revising? What does this say about transformation?