The uniformed officer is—first and foremost—a symbol. A uniform represents authority, a certain level of power, and visibly defines “law enforcement.” Officers take pride in these clothes. It holds a part of what strengthens solidarity within the department or agency.
Ultimately, putting on that uniform is just one aspect that connects officers throughout the nation.
The North-American Association of Uniforms, Manufacturers & Distributors (NAUMD) recognized this 36 years ago when they began the Best Dressed in Public Safety program. “The key, of course, with all the uniform programs, is identification—How does it identify that individual, and what it is they can do for someone either in distress or in a problematic situation? It automatically sends a signal of security and safety and professionalism,” says President and CEO of NAUMD, Richard Lerman.
The 2013 Best Dressed Public Safety Awards placed the 227 entries into specific categories based on number of officers, state agency, sheriff’s office and specialized to better level the field. Winning departments/agencies are:
- Florida Highway Patrol: Departments Under 2,000 Officers, uniforms by VF Imagewear
- Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office: Departments Over 200 Officers, uniforms by VF Imagewear
- Aberdeen Police Department: Departments Under 200 Officers, uniforms by Red the Uniform Tailor
- Madison Police Department: Departments Under 100 Officers, uniforms by Red the Uniform Tailor
- Louisiana State Police: State Agency, uniforms by I. Spiewak
- Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office: Sheriff’s Office, uniforms by Red the Uniform Tailor
- Texas A&M University Core of Cadets: Specialized Agency, uniforms by Fechheimer Bros.
Winning uniform programs are voted on by judges, a panel of 21 to 27 subject matter experts (anonymous) in the law enforcement industry. Each entry, according to Lerman, is rated on quality standards, innovations in the use of fabric, innovation in the use of components in the program, and the environment in which the department works. In addition, submissions included an explanation of the goal of the uniform program. “We asked the judges to evaluate how well did [the entries] meet those goals with the end result,” Lerman adds.
In the end, it’s a perfect storm of components that have to collaborate perfectly: the department’s choices in manufacturer/supplier, that company’s quality and skill in their product, and the judges understanding of the challenges in an officer’s day.
“It’s recognition for the hard work that [our members] do for their departments and the role they play in helping first responders and other public safety to do their job well.
Next year’s program should begin accepting entries in the October/November time frame. For further information on the association and the awards, visit www.naumd.com.