Duty Wear

The days of cops wearing only long-sleeved Class A uniforms are gone. While some agencies still require their officers to wear traditional navy blue or tan wool uniforms year round while on duty, it’s becoming increasingly acceptable for officers to wear uniforms in a variety of fabrics and styles.

Melanie Basich 2012 Headshot

The days of cops wearing only long-sleeved Class A uniforms are gone. While some agencies still require their officers to wear traditional navy blue or tan wool uniforms year round while on duty, it’s becoming increasingly acceptable for officers to wear uniforms in a variety of fabrics and styles.

One reason a wider range of uniform shirts and pants have found their way into department policies is the advancement in technology. While new fabrics provide enhanced comfort in traditional-looking uniforms, they also give casual styles of uniforms a more professional look by preventing wrinkling and fading.

Read on for a sampling of the various uniforms available for the modern officer.


5.11 Tactical

5.11 has developed its own take on the BDU. By partnering with law enforcement and military personnel, the company has created a line of sturdy pants, shirts, and jumpsuits known as Tactical Duty Uniforms (TDUs).

Mil Spec in appearance, the new TDU Pant provides utility and comfort. It features a self-adjusting comfort-waist that is free of irritating metal buckles and cargo pockets with convenient, divided magazine compartments. 5.11 also built its proprietary Back-up Belt System (BBS) into the cargo pockets of the pants for versatility. Both seat and knees are double-thick, and removable neoprene kneepads are free with purchase. Triple-stitching and 40-plus bartacks in high-stress areas add durability. TDU pants are available in two 65-percent polyester, 35-percent cotton blend fabrics: 7.5-ounce ripstop or 7.2-ounce twill. Each pair is Teflon treated for dirt, liquid, and stain resistance.

Designed to complement TDU pants, 5.11’s TDU Shirts are designed to exceed all Mil Spec requirements. The covered placket offers a clean, professional appearance, while 5.11’s hidden-document pockets covertly stow maps, a cell phone, or a backup weapon. Other features include Velcro-closure chest pockets and rear bi-swing shoulders that allow greater range of motion. The elbows are double-reinforced and come with free, removable neoprene elbow pads. Like the pants, TDU shirts are triple-needle stitched, bartacked in all stress areas, and treated with Teflon. You can buy the shirt in long-sleeve, short-sleeve, and tall versions in either 6.14-ounce ripstop or 5.78-ounce twill.

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Blauer’s new line of StreetGear uniforms with 3XDRY comfort treatment includes the 8810X 6-pocket trouser and 8134X 100-percent cotton short-sleeve shirt.

For 2007, Blauer has expanded on the functionality and comfort of its StreetGear uniform line by adding the patented 3XDRY comfort treatment. 3XDRY is a treatment that offers the dual action of repelling liquids and stains from the outside while simultaneously wicking sweat and moisture from the inside to evaporate quickly on the outside. The result is that officers stay drier and more comfortable during long shifts in hot weather.

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Elbeco’s Basic Duty Uniform (BDU) is specifically designed for law enforcement. The long-sleeve shirt and pants are made of the company’s Comfort Twill fabric, which is 50-percent heavier than traditional poplin fabrics. This 7.5-ounce blend of 65-percent polyester and 35-percent combed cotton is finished with stain release fabric protector for enhancement of comfort and performance. Vat dying ensures deep and consistent colors that resist fading to keep you looking sharper longer.

The shirt features snag-proof button flaps and two bellowed inverted pleat chest pockets with drain holes. The left pocket has a pencil pocket/opening.

Sewn down, X-stitched epaulets have two-inch mic/utility openings reinforced with four bartacks on each shoulder and reinforced elbow patches enhance durability. Fused flaps and collar and a concealed five-button placket give a professional appearance, while three-button tab cuffs designed to roll up and a tapered tail tuck-in improve functionality.

Elbeco’s BDU pants feature six pockets: two front slash pockets, two rear inserted pockets with snag-proof fused pocket flaps, and two bellowed inverted pleat cargo pockets with drain holes. Two adjustable side tabs, secured with four bartacks each, and nylon drawstring leg ties ensure a proper fit. Belt loops have a 2 1⁄4-inch-wide opening to accommodate a duty belt. A #42 brass zipper and slider fly closure and reinforced seat and knee patches make the pants durable.

Both shirt and pants are machine washable and available in dark navy blue and black.

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The Perfect Match from Flying Cross by Fechheimer is a shirt and trouser program that uses the same exact fabric blend of 70-percent polyester, 28-percent rayon, and 2-percent Lycra stretch fabric that is the same fabric weight (12-ounce), and weave (serge) for both shirt and trouser. Using this method ensures an exact match in color and comfort.

The long-sleeve shirts feature a special patented accent. It’s called “The Freedom Collar.” The collar is cut on a bias that enables it to stretch up to an additional 1 1⁄2 inches. Additional features include double stitching on the shoulder straps and pocket flaps plus an elbow patch reinforcement that adds strength and longevity to the shirt. Military creases in the front and back, plus plain pockets and scalloped flaps with Velcro closures maintain a professional appearance.

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In its 20th year, Liberty has come out with its Comfort Zone line of law enforcement uniform shirts and trousers. This practical, durable uniform line took more than three years to perfect with the assistance of Invista (formerly DuPont) and Burlington Worldwide.

Comfort Zone fabric incorporates Coolmax, certified for maximum moisture management performance, which dries up to seven times faster than conventional fabrics to keep you cooler in hot, humid weather and warmer in cold temperatures, and Nanotex technology for added moisture management.

Comfort Zone trousers have a stretch waistband that features 360-degree elastic webbing with silicone beading. Comfort Zone shirts (long sleeve) feature an articulating neck button on the collar band to allow an extra half-inch plus of neck room when needed.

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Propper International has released a new tactical uniform for law enforcement based on the construction of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). Propper International has been making uniforms for the Department of Defense for 40 years. The new TAC.U has all of the familiar ACU construction features such as tilted chest pockets and hook and loop patches for insignias, but has been updated to serve the special needs of police and tactical officers.

The company’s ACUs are continually tested and critiqued for durability, functionality, and comfort by U.S. troops in battle conditions around the globe. “All that knowledge went into the development of this product for the law enforcement market,” says Peter Smith, president for Propper’s commercial division.

The TAC.U has many of the original ACU military spec features but also includes new features for law enforcement. Customized features include a nine-pocket zipper-fly tactical trouser; numeric waist sizes with a double snap closure; a longer coat

length and Propper’s gripper waistband to keep shirts tucked for a neat, professional appearance; external knee and elbow pad openings; quick-access, tilted chest pockets on the coat with a protective collar and external Velcro patches for insignias and department identification. The uniform’s coat and trouser are made of durable 65-percent polyester and 35-percent cotton Battle Rip fabric. TAC.Us are available in five law enforcement colors: black, LAPD blue, olive, khaki, and sheriff’s brown.

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The Force

The Special Ops Collection from The Force (formerly Horace Small) comprises tactical pants, woven shirts, polos, and outerwear designed for law enforcement applications ranging from patrol to SWAT.

Built for duty, the garments in the Special Ops Collection boast excellent color retention and moisture-wicking fabrics. They also offer excellent strength and durability and provide an exceptional range of motion for the wearer.

The Special Ops Collection Tactical Woven Shirt is available in black and dark navy and in sizes ranging from extra small to 4XL. It features concealed venting side panels with small mesh openings, reinforced mic strips that offer multiple placement options, and a free-hanging pocket bag.

The Tactical Knit Polo comes in white, black, dark navy, and silver tan. It features The Force’s Dri-Balance Technology for breathability and moisture absorption, a concealed mic loop, and an interlined three-button front placket. Short sleeve and long sleeve versions are available. Sizes range from small to 4XL.

The Tactical Cargo Pant comes in black, brown, silver tan, and dark navy. It’s available in sizes 28 to 54 for men and 4 to 24 for women. The tac pants have quarter top front pockets with interior zippered security; deep, single-welt hip pockets with mitered hook and loop pocket flaps; left and right side four-entry cargo pockets; concealed zippered calf pocket on left leg outseam; and double-layer fabric across the seat.

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Melanie Basich 2012 Headshot
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