The Changing Style of American Law Enforcement Uniforms
The great tradition of law enforcement was carried West on the very first colony ships to strike land in the New World. Thriving as the backbone of U.S. civic structure, the first American officers of the law appeared and behaved very differently from the police of today.
Past to Present
For starters, they all looked different. Up until the Federal government became more influential and the rise of industry brought the country together, the law enforcement officers of each colony and even each municipality varied greatly in both the laws they protected and their manner of dress. In many areas, law enforcement uniforms were nonexistent; those who enforced the law in their towns were simply known by name or by some small sign.
The Boys in Blue
Credit goes to the United Kingdom for beating the USA to the punch in standardizing all of their law enforcement uniforms in 1828, but by the second half of the 19th century, most major American cities had adopted a uniform design that was worn by all their police officers. Many American police officers of the time wore navy blue surplus uniforms left over from the Civil War.
This blue color scheme has since become iconic. Referred to as the “Boys in Blue,” the reality is that contemporary law enforcement uniforms come in many different colors. Different law enforcement agencies have different uniforms, some of which are beige, green or black.
Badges of Courage
While there are many differences between law enforcement uniforms in the U.S.A., one thing is shared between them all: badges. A metal badge of various potential shapes and colors has come to be the universal symbol of law enforcement, and modern law enforcement agencies in America are united by their proud display of this cultural symbol.