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The NYPD Cracks Down on Fashion Don’ts

A new dress code for cops that aims to counteract sartorial sloppiness and inconsistency is set to go into effect on May 6.

NYPD officers police a protest in Brooklyn.
(Hell Gate)

Think about the last time you saw a police officer in New York City. Maybe they were pulling someone out of a car to search the vehicle, or cutting you in line at the bodega, or ticketing a teenager for jumping the turnstile. What sticks out to you about those interactions? What bothers you? It's the fact that one of the cops was wearing a white turtleneck, right?

According to the NYPD, unprofessional dress is a pressing problem among its rank and file—so pressing that they've instituted a new directive telling officers how to dress, presumably to prevent a disastrous "WHAT ARE THOSE?" situation from hitting New York's Finest.

The new guidelines, which are set to go into effect May 6, will ban officers from wearing short sleeved T-shirts with V-neck sweaters, shorts while assigned to transit posts, white turtlenecks (because they "show grime quickly," according to the New York Daily News), and—most devastatingly—those "tactical" cargo pants we think are cool. Instead, officers will reportedly be required to wear "twill" cargo pants from the brand 5.11, and officers in V-necks will be required to wear a long-sleeved shirt and a tie. The department is also considering reinstatement of its now-relaxed ban on facial hair, which it lifted in 2020 when everyone was, I guess, using COVID quarantine to experiment a little bit with their style. 

"If you're not squared away, if you're sloppy, it speaks to who you are," Paul Saraceno, an NYPD inspector who headed up a committee assigned to review police attire last year, told the Daily News when speaking about the new dress requirements. "We expect professionalism in every aspect."

How are NYPD officers taking these changes? "COPS ARE UNDER ATTACK AND CONTINUE TO RETIRE AND RESIGN, NO BETTER TIME TO ADD A FINANCIAL BURDEN," Franklin Valdez, an NYPD officer and—per his LinkedIn page—a Police Benevolent Association (PBA) delegate, wrote on Instagram. The sentiment appears under a meme featuring a screenshot of the new twill pants—which will cost NYPD officers $78 if they don't already own a pair. Meanwhile, PBA President Patrick Hendry has threatened a legal challenge over the new rules. "The department's timing and handling of these changes is completely off,” Hendry said in a statement to the Daily News. "The NYPD has much bigger problems to address—we are still understaffed by thousands and losing hundreds of cops every month."

But is buying new pants and being a little more conscious of how you dress for work a "problem"? For what it's worth, reviews of these specific cargo pants on 5.11's website are generally positive, minus one customer who wrote that "it was brought to my attention by one of my Officers that my pants looked like they were purple. When I took a look at them in the sunlight they were purple." DO WE WANT OUR OFFICERS TO BE EMBARRASSED WHEN THEY POLICE IN THE SUNLIGHT? THINK ABOUT THAT! 

Some links you don't have to dress up to read: 

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