Employees in the civil and criminal investigations divisions can now wear tan battle dress uniform, or BDU, pants and black microfiber polo-style shirts.
“They’re out in the field a lot,” Lt. Lewis Blanchard said of the affected employees. “It’s a lot more conducive to be in a uniform suitable to that environment.”
Blanchard said there are many times that investigators in their Sunday best find themselves in a foot chase with a suspect, crawling under houses or other areas.
Although a dress shirt, shoes and tie look good, they can get in the way of the job.
Employees still have the option to wear their dress clothes if they choose and are still required to dress up for court.
Blanchard said the clothing change goes along with the sheriff’s administration’s goal of increasing visibility. The new shirts have a sheriff’s star on the front and the word “sheriff” on the sleeve and back. The uniform ensures the employees are easily identified in the field.
It’s just the first step in changes for employee uniforms. The sheriff’s office is also looking into changes for road deputies.
“The reason it’s already changed for them (civil and criminal investigation divisions) is because they get a clothing allowance, so it’s an easy transition,” Blanchard said.
Those in the affected divisions are given $20 every two weeks for clothing.
Any changes to the road patrol uniform will require an initial cost.
The sheriff’s office is looking into options to find a deputy uniform that will be effective and comfortable and save the department money.
Minor changes already have been made after deputies raised uniform complaints in one of the first Sheriff’s Advisory Council meetings.
The council, composed of 21 employees from every division of the office, meets at least once a month to discuss topics concerning the department.
After the meeting, the sheriff’s office chose to remove hats and ties from the uniform requirement and has given deputies a different shoe option.
Officers were wearing black patent leather shoes, which look dressy but were a source of foot complaints. Officers now have several choices for a shoe they like.
Hats are optional and are still used in situations such as extended traffic detail.
Blanchard said the changes were “greatly appreciated by all deputies.”