Tulsa Police Earn Best Best Dressed Award

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The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma has a population of approximately 400,000 and is served by a police department of over 800 sworn officers. Tulsa has a downtown district in the midst of rejuvenation and is currently building a new arena in the downtown area.TPD_Staff Uniform.jpg

From the inception of the Tulsa Police Department in 1905 officers wore the dark blue wool uniform that was common to all metro police departments of the time. Then at some point prior to 1952, traffic officers began wearing green and gray uniforms while patrol officers remained in blue. In 1952, the decision was made that all officers wear the green shirts and "army pink" pants, with the addition of the green stripe down the leg, that the traffic officers wore. This green and army pink uniform seemed to be based on a U.S. Army officer's uniform of the World War II era.

This was the status quo until recently. In late 2004, Chief of Police Dave Been approved a proposal to transition all officers back to the traditional dark blue uniforms. A group was formed, headed by Captain Travis Yates, to investigate the available uniform options and present their choice of uniform style and blend to the Chief of Police for approval.

Yates stated, "The work by the committee was intense. Every division was represented and field officers were given an equal say in this historical decision. Literally within a few months we had determined the best uniform to present to the Chief."TPD_Formal Class A.jpg

Based on their findings, Chief Been approved the dark blue 100% wool uniform and then forwarded the project to Officer Will Dalsing in the Planning and Research Section for implementation.

Dalsing had no idea the complexity of changing the uniforms of a police department of over 800 sworn officers. "Had I known what I had been asked to do, I would have run screaming from the room. In this case, ignorance was best. This was a huge undertaking."

There was one easy part, stated Dalsing, " we chose a great uniform, one with a long successful tradition. Police have always worn wool with great success."

There were funds to be located, contracts to be written, fittings and wear-testing to be completed. Everyone involved knew that the decisions made would likely begin a tradition to last another fifty years. Officer Dalsing agonized over every decision.

Meanwhile, Captain Yates had formed another small workgroup to develop a new shoulder patch. Tulsa Police had been wearing a shoulder patch based on the basic design of the "Yield" sign, a symbol designed by Tulsa Police officer Clinton Riggs, for many years. Designs were sought, submissions pored over, and the much-admired shoulder patch was selected.TPD_SWAT.jpg

Designed by Dave Carman, a graphic artist for the Tulsa World newspaper, the patch includes "art-deco" elements and a representation of the skyline of downtown Tulsa, the city once known as "The Oil Capital of the World." Tulsa officers now proudly wear the patch on both shoulders of the uniform. The shoulder patch is sought by collectors from all over the country and it is nationally recognized as one of the finest examples of police patches.

The changeover date was set. On November 4th, 2005, all Tulsa Police Officers began reporting to duty wearing the dark navy blue uniform bearing the new "Tulsa Police" shoulder patches. The response of the public was very positive. Officers were approached and told that they looked more professional and more like a metropolitan police department.

The uniform program of the Tulsa Police Department is a model for others. The uniform is exactly specified and controlled to maintain consistency. Officer Will Dalsing, then appointed to be the Uniform Coordinator, developed a "Uniform Specifications Manual" to replace the former policy. The Manual stands alone as a resource to officers and vendors to answer all questions about the uniforms of the Department, how and when they are to be worn, the exact tailoring details, and even the Department's approval process for authorized vendors.

The dark blue uniform allows the addition of options such as the staff uniform and a few specialty uniforms for specific units of the Department that have difficult apparel requirements.TPD_Class A Short Sleeve.jpg

The program is controlled from the top. The Chief of Police has made it clear that it is his priority to have officers represent the City of Tulsa with distinction. Chief Dave Been states, "Tulsa's police officers are the front-line ambassadors of the city and often the only contact citizens have with their government. Our officers wear distinguished uniforms every day."

Though many police departments are choosing different and cheaper fabric blends for their uniforms, Tulsa has always determined to maintain the excellent look provided only by wool. Officer Dalsing said, "Our wool uniforms provide the crisp look we require. The fact is all the other blends and uniforms out there are just attempting to match this traditional look." Wool maintains it's pressed look longer and provides the breathability and durability that is so valuable to officers in the field.

When it is time to go to court, to a funeral or function, officers can easily add the tie, the traditional "Ike" jacket or staff blouse jacket, and the "Modified-Pershing" hat to their Class-A uniform and be prepared. "We want it to be easy for officers to be prepared for formal functions. We proudly wear a Class-A uniform in the field and supervisors conduct inspections monthly" said Captain Travis Yates.

The Tulsa Police Department entered in the "Best Dressed Law Enforcement" contest sponsored by the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD). Officer Dalsing knew it was an important undertaking, "We took the contest very seriously. In Tulsa, we have always taken pride in our uniforms and it was important to get the opinion of an outside organization."

In September of 2006, Dalsing was finally notified of the results: the Tulsa Police Department had been named the national "Best Dressed Law Enforcement Agency" in the category "Municipal Agencies Over 200."


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