Dressing The Part

Ooohhh!  Are You a SWAT Operator?

Today I was at a bullying conference that was mostly attended by principals, counselors and psychologists, but there were a few police school resource officers in the mix.  When I was a cop and we went to training in street clothes, we typically either didn't wear our guns (that was nearly 20 years ago - inexcusable now) or wore nice jeans or khakis with a polo or oxford shirt, and the gun on the belt in a pancake holster.

I've noticed at these school safety conferences over the past few years, that the SROs in the classes seem to have transformed into these "tommy tactical" types with combat boots, BDU or 5-11 trousers, and Underarmor t-shirts... despite NOT being the least bit tactical in physical appearance (and if you've seen me, yes, I guess I am casting proverbial stones and calling the kettle black).  At a summer conference, a deputy was wearing a left-hand inside the pants holster, but it was on his right side, outside of the pants.  His badge was pinned through the nylon holster.  Today, an officer who was rather "dumpy" in appearance, had a Glock in a new-fangled plastic holster, looped to a cheap looking, thin, leather dress belt that had all the strength and support of Jethro's rope belt on Beverly Hillbillies.  That was combined with 5-11 trousers that would have been loose on my big butt.  In these and many other cases, it is as if they feel somewhat inferior because they are "school cops" and they think they need to come across as looking much "cooler" to get respect.  Unfortunately, the opposite happens because they look like someone playing dress up.

I believe there is a need for police in schools.  Not to arrest kids for pot or teach civics, but to be the armed presence when an attack happens and to be able to close with and neutralize the attacker to minimize the loss of life in the building.  I think that the SROs need to be the elite of the police department, with shooting and tactical skills right up there with SWAT.  They need to be fit, agile and highly skilled with their weapons and tools.  We can talk all day about arming staff, but folks, that ain't gonna happen in the vast majority of the US any time soon.

If they are going to dress the part, they ought to be able to back it up.  Who do you want carrying a pistol in your kid's school?  The cop who wants to retire in a few years and the chief figured M-F 7:30-3:30 was a good reward + it keeps him off the street, or the fit, athletic, marksman who can shoot at the top of the department all day long?  Oakleys and a thigh rig do not an operator make.


  1. Not to categorize but that reminds me of rent-a-cops: Try to look tough no matter how you really look to everyone else.

    I've yet to see one SRO (or local police force airport officer) who had a remotely presentable and/or authority-like appearance. The folks doing security for a local Mormon church look and dress better.

    Having the latest cool gear and tactical stuff doesn't make you a badass, but unfortunately we are talking about the general population.

  2. i find this militarization of the police to to be widespread, not relegated to sro's. i think it started back in '88. we went from revolvers to autos, and started wearing short-sleeved shirts. then went to shiny boots and ball caps. now every wanna-be-but-didn't-make-the-cut-jsoc warrior is running around in cammies (woodland, marpat!??) bloused boots, low slung holster,tac vest and sporting an m4, FOR A TRAFFIC STOP! footage of my local swat team revealed even deeper concerns from their full adoption of military lingo("tip of the spear" was tip of the iceberg) and hooah-hooah attitudes. while they have their place, not EVERY WARRANT need be served ala hooded swat sniper. no wonder folks are hating on cops these days.


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