dress blues

Police uniform, 2007


When the Mt. Lebanon Police Department hires a new police officer, he or she receives an “initial issue” checklist of clothing and equipment that is covered by the department. The list includes almost every item of clothing they will need, including several varieties of short- and long-sleeve shirts, trousers, jackets and hats. They also get ties, belts, shoes, a raincoat, gloves, a bulletproof vest and even socks. Every officer also receives handcuffs, a whistle, a badge, a flashlight and a baton as well as collar pins and nametag. Utility belts come with holders for the baton, cuffs, flashlight and radio. The department issues guns. In all, it costs the municipality about $5,000 to outfit a police officer.

Every one of the police department’s 44 officers is issued a uniform account and an annual stipend to cover replacement items or additional items such as a turtleneck shirt. Honor guard, bike patrol and Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) members are supplied additional equipment and uniforms. Dress uniforms, however, which cost about $600, are optional and must be purchased through the officers’ uniform account. Uniforms are machine washable.

Officers are required to wear specific brands, styles and colors, all of which are listed in a uniform regulation binder. Most officers purchase items at M & M Uniforms in Bridgeville.

When an officer retires or leaves the department, he or she must turn in certain items such as guns and badges. Retired officers are issued a special badge that authorizes them to carry a firearm.

In some respects, the uniforms Mt. Lebanon police officers wear today can be traced back to 1829 when the London Metropolitan Police Department became the first law enforcement entity to issue uniforms to its officers as standard work wear. Dark blue was chosen because the British military wore red and white. In 1853, New York City’s police department became the first agency in the United States to issue uniforms to its officers.