Tulsa Police Earn Best Best Dressed Award
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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
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."