A fully equipped Richmond County Sheriff’s Office “Class A” officer’s uniform costs $6,478.09.
From the shirts, to the badge, to the shoes, each item has a price – and a reason.
“We want the officers to look professional. These uniforms are designed as the ‘dress’ uniforms,” said Capt. John Francisco, who trains new officers and is in charge of the uniform department.
“When people come into town, this is what they want to see.”
The uniforms are also designed to last. The shirts are made from a tropical weave of 55 percent down polyester and 45 percent wool. They have permanent creases and have been known to last for 10 years.
Every officer is fitted for their uniform by the quartermaster. The quartermaster then fills out a sheet saying exactly what he gave the deputy.
If something does get ripped or destroyed, the officer can bring the article in for a replacement.
Francisco says the uniform contract goes up for bid every year. Whoever wins must be able to provide a local location for altering. Currently, the contract belongs to Uniforms by John at 511 Broad St.
The deputies aren’t thrilled about every aspect of the uniform. It can be heavy, and the vest does not allow for much air. During the summer, it can be brutal.
Deputy Jose Ortiz said he purchased a small hose that can be plugged into the air conditioner in his car and then placed under the vest for some relief.
The hat is also not a favorite, but Francisco is quick to defend it.
“We are a paramilitary organization,” he said. “We have always worn hats as part of the uniform.”
The hat is made of tightly woven straw and is designed to keep the sun off the deputy’s head with a wide, stiff brim. Ortiz owns a wooden board that he puts his hat in to keep the brim flat when he is not wearing it.
All Richmond County officers start as jail staff. When working for the jail, they are issued recycled equipment.
If they are recommended by their superiors to be promoted to deputy, they are given new equipment. When they do retire or leave, they turn everything in.
The quartermaster decides whether the uniform is in good enough condition to be put back into circulation.
Richmond County has more than 500 Class A officers. So at any one time, there is more than $3 million in clothing and equipment patrolling the streets of Augusta.