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The creation of tactical units and specialty teams within police forces in the late 20th century gave rise to the requirement of new tactical gear to meet the uniform needs of these groups.  Limited to training, tactical duties, or special assignments, these uniforms originally drew inspiration from the military BDU.  Several companies developed BDUs from the military specifications in black, dark navy, khaki or olive to meet the instant demand.  

Cost control was a priority for departments and one of the first changes was moving from 50% Nylon / 50% Cotton (NYCO) ripstop and twill materials that the military demanded to lower priced polyester/cotton variants.  While sometimes considered inferior to NYCO in breathability, the polyester/cotton blends were equally durable and made to resist wrinkles, stains, shrinkage, and fading.  

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Over time, competition and innovations from the outdoor market created many more choices for the law enforcement professional.  As the look of tactical uniforms has become more commonly accepted in departments, their use has moved from SWAT or K-9 officers only, to at times even Class B Patrol.  The features of the basic BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) have evolved to include specialty-sized pockets for cell phones or other equipment, wider and more strategically placed belt loops to support duty belts, numeric sizing for a more professional, tailored fit, and most recently stretch fabrics that improve mobility without sacrificing the crisp appearance.  Fabrics are softer and quieter as are the features.  To lower the profile of the wearer, cargo pockets are minimized, hidden or removed completely.  

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If the past provides any clues for the future, tactical pants will continue to become more popular.  Manufacturers will continue to listen to department needs and more innovations will follow in fabrics and features.  As departments strive to connect with their communities and LEOs request more comfortable and modern fitting uniforms, it is likely that tactical pants will continue to borrow inspiration from consumer markets.  Will tactical pant fabrics or features push further into traditional Class B uniforms?  Will chinos or denim force their way into approved for use?