For the first time in about a century, Wichita police officers will wear blue uniforms.
During an announcement Thursday at City Hall, Capt. Brian White said the Wichita Police Department will begin transitioning immediately from khaki-colored to dark navy blue uniforms. The transition, however, isn’t expected to be complete until March 2019.
The change comes after a year-long discussion among department members, the police union and a number of suppliers.
“One of the great things about the navy blue uniform is that officers can wear different versions, but they still match,” White said. That was one of the things that we were targeting. We’ll have different vendors and different options, but we’re still going to match.”
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The new uniforms – made by Spiewak and Flying Cross – will give officers the option of several different combinations, and the new pants will feature an adjustable waistband.
There will not be any additional cost for the department, White said. The 2016 budgeted clothing allowance for Wichita police was $500,000.
“This didn’t happen overnight,” White said. “When going through this process, we found that officers took a liking to specific brands. There are also different fit options for female officers. A lot of research went into this change.”
Department administrators, White said, had been hearing for years that officers weren’t happy with the tan uniforms.
The department has been in its tan uniforms for about 90 years, White said. Some officers, he said, have been wearing the new threads in the field for several months in order to test them.
“When you go way back – I’m talking pre-1920 – we were in blue back then,” White said. “Now we’re transitioning back. We’ve had no problems with officer identification.”
In 1990, under former Wichita police Chief Rick Stone, the department considered switching to blue. A committee was set up to evaluate the uniforms, but officers voted overwhelmingly to keep the old uniforms, citing tradition.