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A colleague models Senior Constable Mark Taylor’s prototype cap, which he has sent to Wellington at the request of PNHQ.

Caps for cops?

Your feedback. The numbers tell the story.

Of 273 emails sent to Police News in response to our story on the suggestion of a baseball-style cap for frontline police, only six were not in favour of the idea. The sheer number of emails on one topic was a Police News record for feedback on a policing issue. With so many responses, we couldn’t fit them in our Letters to the Editor section. However, the opinions expressed about Senior Sergeant Mark Taylor’s idea, and his prototype cap, were remarkably similar, so here’s a summary of the main points raised by those in favour of general-issue caps.

  • Practical, cost-effective and smart... and will ensure we want to wear it, rather than have to wear it.
  • We are a changing workforce – the organisation has worked hard to break through stereotypes, only to tell us that baseball caps don’t fit our image? Years ago, we used to wear tunics day to day – that changed.
  • Officers issued with baseball-style caps during duty at the G20 summit in Brisbane in 2014 thought they were a great option in the hot weather.
  • We’ve already switched to body armour – a baseball-style cap is the next step.
  • The peak provides better sun protection at crashes or checkpoints.
  • Minimal storage space needed. You can carry it in your pocket.
  • Adjustable.
  • Easy to clean – pop it in a pillowcase in the washing machine.
  • I’ve wanted one for 17 years.
  • Better for women with long hair – they can put their ponytail through the hole at the back.
  • Better field of view.
  • More relaxed-looking, making police more approachable.
  • If you work in a specialist role – search and rescue, dog handler, CVIU, serious crash – you can wear a police-issue cap, but the staff who initially attend an incident and are often there for longer, or attend a missing person alert or burglary, are not provided with these caps.
  • Let’s have a dress uniform and a working uniform – it’s the 21st century.

This was the feedback on the forage caps and one on the wide-brimmed sunhats:

  • Awkward and impractical in dynamic situations – ie, it falls off – and is cumbersome and outdated.
  • The most useless piece of uniform we have for everyday policing.
  • Most of the time it lives in the boot of the car, or a gear bag, where it gets knocked out of shape and then looks terrible.
  • The forage cap doesn’t “breathe” and when you take it off, sweat runs down your face.
  • Can’t get in and out of the vehicle without it falling off and they get deliberately knocked off in pubs.
  • Should only be for formal wear, such as ceremonial purposes, funerals and next-of-kin visits.
  • The use of ceremonial hats for climbing under houses, getting dirty hands and being in confrontations with offenders is ludicrous.
  • Looks out of place on top of the BAS and police boots.
  • The wide-brim sunhats make us look like lifeguards.
  • And, a philosopical comment from one member: It’s not the uniform that makes the police officer; it’s the person wearing the uniform.

Those who oppose baseball-style caps for general issue raised these points:

  • Not formal enough for Police headgear and would make us look like an American police service.
  • Not conducive to raising public trust and confidence.
  • Cheap and nasty – next they’ll want hoodies.
  • We are not a sports team or some easygoing public service.
  • They don’t fit with the community police image.
  • Forage cap gives a level of distinction, professionalism and brings respect on the street.

Mark received a lot of personal feedback on the issue “with 99 per cent being positive”.

He said it was disappointing to learn that previous proposals for the introduction of a cap had been ignored by senior management in Police. “There’s a groundswell from members for this to be sooner rather than later. I believe an operational cap can be introduced into service before the end of the year for frontline staff in BAS and when on operations. The forage cap could still be worn on formal occasions, with No 1 dress and to court, etc.

“I would hate to see calls for discussion groups and then trials that would prolong this in the hope that the idea will just disappear.”

He was hopeful that senior police management could work with the Police Association and frontline staff on the rapid introduction of a “practical, smart-looking operational frontline service cap that will serve police long into the coming years”.

At the request of Police, Mark has sent his prototype cap to PNHQ.

Inspector Jason Ross, Police manager: response capability, told Police News that Police is always interested in new uniform ideas from staff and decisions about any changes must go through the Police executive under a process outlined in the Uniform Policy.

The idea of a baseball-cap style had been considered in the past, he said, but a general-issue operational cap was “not currently approved”.