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Arbitrator to take on fight over police uniforms

Officers have been ordered to switch from convenient and casual uniforms to formal ones to reduce impersonators

By PoliceOne Staff

PHOENIX — An arbitrator will handle the disagreement between the Phoenix Police Department and some of its officers regarding new dress code regulations.

For the past 15 years, officers had the option of wearing “Class D” uniforms, entailing black cotton polo-style shirts and cargo pants. 

Police Chief Daniel Garcia recently handed down a mandate that ordered officers only wear a “Class C” uniform—a dark blue polyester-blend button-down shirt and dress pants.

Garcia mandated the change, which began Oct.1,  because he believed the different options could be confusing to the public, and a casual uniform made it easier for others to impersonate officers.

"Given a growing trend of suspects impersonating police officers, during home invasion-style robberies and fake traffic stops, it only makes sense that we do everything we can to help avoid conflict with our residents," the department said a news release in September, according to azfamily.com. "This is an issue of safety not only for residents, but for our officers, as well.”

Vice President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) Ken Crane disagreed with Garcia, saying that any uniform—including the more formal, “Class C” uniform—can be faked.

Crane also argued that the “Class D” ensemble was more beneficial in the summer heat, and the daily activities that cops encounter like running and jumping.

PLEA filed a grievance on behalf of more than 100 officers. 

It is not clear when the arbitrator will hear the two sides and issue a ruling. His or her decision will be final. 

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