by J.C. De Ladurantey
How Green is Green, and How Uniform is Uniform?
Have you noticed a variety of colors of uniforms on the men and women in law enforcement when you follow a thrilling pursuit on television or drive by a ‘routine’ traffic stop? To shed light on the subject, or confuse you more, here is a brief explanation of those colors.
A forest green uniform is generally considered to be the winter color for Sheriff’s Departments. Green trousers, shirts and even the heavy-duty Jackets are designed to keep them warm and cuddly. Sheriffs provide patrol services in the unincorporated areas of their County, or by contract with a City. For example, in Orange County California, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department provides patrol services for communities such as Lake Forest, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente. Anaheim and Santa Ana have their own municipal police departments.
Khaki, or tan, uniforms are used by the various County Sheriff’s Departments in California in Spring, Summer and Fall. In addition, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) dons their khaki uniforms year-round. However, CHP officers who get dirty inspecting commercial vehicles wear a dark blue jump suit.
Navy blue is the uniform color of choice for most municipal or city police departments. Navy blue trousers and a baby blue uniform shirt are generally worn by civilian employees, such as a community services officer or civilian traffic investigator. Most municipal police departments have a shoulder patch to designate their agency name. The LAPD does not wear shoulder patches except for those assigned to traffic duties such as Accident Investigation or Motors. That is just to make it a little bit more complicated!
Outside of California, you will see an array of uniform colors, including various shades of blue and green. On occasion, while watching the news and events in the mid-west and east coast, you may also see dark blue or tan trousers and a white shirt adorned with insignias, medals or stitched embroidery.
For uniformed security companies, there is no consistency regarding the color of their uniforms. Many wear colors like police departments as it is generally considered a color of authority. Make sure to check the shoulder patch or badge as security personnel are many times hard to distinguish from your local police and/or sheriff.
Why the various colors? To distinguish themselves by their hiring authority (County, City, State) and to confuse you, the public! Now that you know the correct information, you may do with it what you please!
Dr. Joseph C. De Ladurantey is a retired Chief of Police for the City of Irwindale, California. With over 40 years in law enforcement, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Management, he brings a broad range of real-world experience to the classroom and keyboard. He has published two textbooks, written several articles for professional publications and is in possession of too many unfinished manuscripts for other books. He published his first crime novel, Cowards, Crooks, and Warriors, in April 2015.
Since 2011 he has hosted a radio show “Making Your Memories” on Orange County radio station KSBR, 88.5 FM specializing in Rock & Roll and Doo Wop music of the 1950’s and early 60’s.
He resides with his wife Sandra in San Juan Capistrano, California.
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