The police uniform and its impact on public perceptions




Quill, Patrick

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


When someone first looks at another person, the first thing that is noticed is the clothing that each is wearing. This causes each person to formulate an impression about the other. Clothing can help determine a person’s gender, social status, occupation, or even if the individual is a person of authority. The police uniform is no exception, and police officers are not exempt from these judgments. In fact, this psychological and sociological phenomenon plays an important part in the public perception of the police. In today’s modern society, the use of military equipment and military uniforms by police departments has negatively influenced the perception of the police as a group of men and women who serve and protect the members of their communities. It has become vitally important that police administrators give serious consideration to the impact of the uniform. It is necessary to strongly consider that the traditional police uniform should be used rather than a military-style uniform to maintain an appearance of strength, safety, and security without instilling fear or intimidation into the community. Police are a society’s protectors; soldiers are conquerors of nations. The uniform worn by police must symbolize trust, honesty, and authority.With available studies and empirical data, police administrators can make this choice without damaging the perception of their department. Something as guileless as the uniformed officer wears can determine how a police department will be perceived as a whole.The military style uniform creates a “Us versus Them” mentality and is not conducive to strengthening a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community.The police uniform was created to differentiate the police from the military


Clothing creates a first impression and the police office is no different. The uniform worn by the police office can symbolize trust honesty and authority and how the military style of the uniform can affect the way officers are viewed.


police uniforms, police community relations, psychological aspects of uniforms