35 countries in 800 days: Police uniforms from around the world
Book showcases police uniforms from more than 60 cities
By Matt Javit
With a unique opportunity to travel the world for 27 months to 35 countries, fate dealt me a winning hand during my first stop in Santiago, Chile. I passed a police officer on her horse and later an officer with his K-9. I asked each if I could take their photo with my phone. Both agreed.
About a week later in Valparaiso, Chile, I encountered a police officer as I was searching for coffee in a quiet back alley. The whole situation seemed bigger than just another photo opportunity. At that point, I decided I would attempt to take photos of the officers I met along the journey.
My wife, Nikki, and I caught the travel bug about seven years ago. I never really traveled internationally until my mid-thirties. With the help of my technology career, I had the chance to travel to places like Istanbul, Bangkok, Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Those trips hooked me, and we began to save with a plan to quit our careers and seek adventure on the road.
On February 21, 2017, we boarded a plane to South America with the plan to travel for the next 27 months before returning home. We knew there would be a bunch of crazy fun ahead, but we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. During our journey, we started a weekly podcast, shared tips on our website, and even started a video series (now on Amazon Prime) called World Barber Shop Adventures that highlights my time in barbershops in cities and towns around the world.
Along with these fun projects, I was taking a ton of photos during my long walks each day. One of my passions was to capture the police officers I would meet (after getting their approval) who were working their local beats within their communities.
FATE CONTINUED TO WORK ITS MAGIC
There were many encounters with police where I would leave shaking my head wondering how I was so lucky to be in that spot at that time. Like the colorful and dynamic background where I met the officer in Catania, Italy, as he was exiting a local restaurant.
Or the huge smile of the officer in Indore, India, as he greeted visitors into the pre-Diwali celebration at a large downtown market with the motorcycle, the shoppers in the back and the festival lights above him.
I especially enjoyed the meeting with the officer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, during Bon Om Touk, a huge water festival the country celebrates. His surroundings capture the hustle and fun of the celebration ‒ the little girl eating, the masked worker in her stand and the flags waving as if on command.
The main focus of the photos was the police officers, but the environments they worked in provide me lasting memories.
THE DIFFERENCES IN UNIFORM
We were in Christchurch, New Zealand, this year during Easter. The host we were staying with invited over a couple of friends, one of whom was a retired police officer. I took the opportunity to share some of the photos with him, scrolling through them on my phone.
He asked me over and over to stop and zoom in on the uniforms of the police officers (at this point I had over 70 photos from around the world). He loved looking at the differences in the uniforms, the weaponry and the pride. He was interested in every photo.
Based on his reaction and a conversation I had with a police-focused PTSD psychiatrist who emphasized the importance of sharing the photos and celebrating these amazing people I met around the world, I committed to self-publishing my first book, POLICE: Brotherhood in Uniform Around the World. The 180-page photography book has been well-received within the law enforcement community, travel lovers and police supporters. The project was even featured on Fox & Friends in September, highlighting the amazing work police do daily to protect communities around the world. It was an honor.
FUN ENCOUNTER AT IACP
To understand more about the community I represented in the photography book, I attended the IACP conference in Chicago. I hoped to get more insight into the law enforcement community by seeing what products, services and companies make up the ecosystem.
I was shocked to find all of the high-tech gadgets, unbelievable simulation technology and a hoverbike from Dubai Police.
While checking out all of the fun stuff, I met awesome people as well, including the head of the Fiji Police Department who I greeted with the typical "Bula, Bula" that they say constantly in that beautiful country. After expressing my gratitude for his service, I had the chance to show off one of his police officers that made my book from Nadi, Fiji. He was extremely proud.
Having the chance to send him home with a copy of the book as a gift to the young man featured was a huge pleasure and brought me personal pride. I never could have imagined the short encounters I had the opportunity to capture would have had such a lasting impact.
About the author
Matt Javit lives in Indianapolis with his wife of 14 years, Nikki, where they continue to plan and dream of their next destination; to walk through a chaotic market, meet new and inspiring friends, and dance to local music till the sun comes up. Matt is a business owner and keynote speaker sharing his exciting stories and lessons learned from his 800-day journey around the world. Connect with him at MattJavit.com.