"A professional appearance is expected out of everyone in both fields of endeavor."
-Frank Borelli, Editorial Director,
Law Enforcement Militarization, Officer.com/11077069
The uniform of a law enforcement officer has a lot to say. It displays rank. It signifies role within the agency. It can help the public visually understand your assigned mission, be it traffic patrol, security for the state fair, suiting up and responding with the SWAT team, or dressed in a class A.
However, over time these uniforms could become out dated. Times change. Public perception changes. An officer's pride changes - their professionalism comes from within as well as without.
NAUMD also recognizes Innovation Awards to celebrate the creativity and excellence within the uniform industry to the manufacturers that developed them.
Click here for the winning products.
Each year the North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors (NAUMD) honors this with their Best Dressed in Public Safety Competition. This program accepts submissions from agencies "that go the extra mile to create versatile, functional and stylish uniforms that represent public safety professionals." The competition accepted submissions from any angle of public safety. NAUMD categorizes entries by type and size of agency. Now in it's 41st year, these categories were Departments with less than 100 officers, Departments with 100 to 500 officers, Departments with over 500 officers, a medium-sized first responder department, and large-sized first responder department. Two different fire departments won the two First Responders awards. Winning departments and uniform suppliers received recognition and a plaque.
As quoted in the official release,"Uniforms have a powerful impact on how employees are perceived, and this is particularly true in law enforcement and public safety,” says Steve Zalkin, NAUMD president. “This year’s winners have worked hard to ensure they have the best uniforms to meet their specific needs, and we’re proud to recognize their achievements."
You can see that pride from the officers faces as well. Zalkin tells of one judge who commented they, "were impressed to see the pride shown in the faces of the law enforcement personnel wearing the uniforms in the pictures."
The Best Dressed Law Enforcement AgenciesThe Perrysburg Township (Ohio) PD, Departments with less than 100 Officers
After a number of options, the uniforms of Perrysburg Township PD have been a work in a progress. While there are a ton of alternative choices available for departments to build their uniform, Perrysburg Township seems to hold professionalism a high priority.
"We take a lot of pride in our work here at Perrysburg Township and strive to be the most professional police department in the area," says Lt. Mat Gazarek, of Perrysburg Township PD. "It certainly is nice when others take notice and we are recognized for our efforts."
In an clever act of nostalgia, the department also updated its patch with a historical design to reference the year the PD was formed (1973) using the township seal, explains Gazarek.
Their "traditional look with brass" consists of lines from Elbeco and the Blauer Rip-Stop with an embroidered name and sewn-on bade. Alternatively, the K9 unit uses the Rip-Stop from Propper. The uniform was supplied by Superior Uniform Sales.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol, Departments with 100 to 500 Officers
Highway Patrol Captain Rob Weinmeister was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the South Dakota Highway Patrol during this year's NAUMD Conference and Exposition in St. Louis, Mo. "[We] transitioned to the new uniform at the start of this year," he says. Keeping to tradition their look remains the same, but they updated some internal features to give troopers additional flexibility while wearing the uniform on duty.
According to Tony Mangan a representative of the Department of Pubic Safety for the South Dakota Highway Patrol the uniform was manufactured by Spiewak Inc. and supplied by Streicher's.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Departments with Over 500 Officers
"Except for changes in headgear and changing from the uniform blouse to the shirt for daily use, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has been proudly wearing our blue uniform since 1931," says Captain John Hotz, Director of the Public Information and Education Division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Like South Dakota, the Missouri State Highway Patrol uniform was supplied by Spiewak.
The panel of judges are allowed to consider only the information provided in the submissions, regardless of Award program. The NAUMD runs an Innovation Award as well as an Image of the Year program. The judges themselves change year over year, making sure there are different view points from both the academic and professional sides are represented. There's an academic fashion expert, an academic branding/marketing expert, professional fashion expert, and a professional branding/marketing expert. No member of NAUMD was involved in the judging process.
These experts have 30 days to score every submission. Like the main table at the "Iron Chef" show on Food Network, each department was rated on a cumulative 100 point system. For Best Dressed, categories included:
- Overall appearance: 50 points
- Use of technology and innovation, How does the uniform incorporate new technologies or innovations to make the uniform more functional or comfortable: 25 points
- Problem solved or improvement for department, Did the uniform solve a problem or provide an improvement for the uniform wearers: 20 points
- Maintain appearance standards, Does the department have a process in place to ensure the uniform is worn properly and appearance maintained: 5 points
If your department has updated its uniform recently - or plan to - you just might qualify for next year's competition. Entry information for the 2019 Best Dressed in Public Safety is currently scheduled to post September 15 with an acceptance deadline March 9, 2019. Winners are planned to be announced at the Awards Dinner during the annual NAUMD Convention and Exposition April 9, 2019 in New Orleans.
Write well and good luck!