Photo: bigwoodie (Flickr).
Photo: bigwoodie (Flickr).
Maybe I'm getting older or out of touch, but we need to address the bling factor while in uniform. Some view it as self-expression and others as a uniform policy statement. Let's add some more factors to this mix, including safety, tactics and uncomfortable situations.
Most departments have a policy or regulation regarding jewelry. The boilerplate verbiage could include a limit of one wristwatch, one bracelet, and one necklace that's not visible to the public. One ring per hand is standard. Earrings are usually allowed for females, and policies may now also cover male officers. OK, that's a general overview. Read your department's policy, if they have one.
I won't address concepts about self-expression, good taste and other supposition. For recruits, let's talk common sense with these suggestions:
It should be durable and rugged. I would recommend one with lighting or a luminescent dial for night work. Feel free to pick up a watch with alarms and a timer (for breaks). That's all you need. Keep in mind the likelihood of the watch getting scratched or lost. Make a good, sane investment.
Leave them at home. Face it, most shooters in the world are right-handed, and many wear a bracelet on the right arm. If this bracelet has any chance in the world that of getting hung on anything when drawing your weapon, it will get hung, snagged or wrapped around something. Leave the bracelets for pleasure hours. Additionally, if it has any sentimental meaning to you, it will be broken or lost in a torrential downpour or gang-hosted riot and lost forever.
In a pure patrol setting, I would say don't wear them at all. Before your spouses' send me hate mail, listen to why. First, the reality of a hand or finger injury on duty is a very real possibility. Getting a ring caught or a finger fractured or cut off has happened. I would rather you be injury free. Fraternal rings often beckon problems. I'm not against any of the fraternal groups. I belong to several and have a ring or two. These must be worn prudently. There will always be someone asking for a pass or break if they see you wearing any kind of ring. The troubled drunk may not be a member of the group; still, he'll notice it and ask for a favor, which creates an uncomfortable clamor.
If you like bulky college rings, have you qualified on the range with one? Larger rings will alter your grip on the weapon and can be cumbersome when defensive tactics come into play. In cold weather, your fingers shrink. When you pull off your gloves, the rings will fall off. Leave them at home.
The earrings are usually pierced with posts. No dangles. Other piercings should be covered to avoid public display.
I wear one, but it's under my shirt and not visible to the public. Remember, you'll be wearing this under a vest and the medallion will move around. Make sure it's not available to a thug who could choke you with it.
I'm not anti-bling. I have some in the jewelry box. Yet in a tactical environment, it's best to keep it to a minimum. I'm not trying to be a prude but I want you safe and injury-free. And I'd like it if you held on to the ring given to you from your great uncle.