Over the next few weeks, City of Dover residents may notice a change in the daily uniforms worn by our officers.
The change in duty uniforms for our agency became a need after the Dover Police uniform supplier closed their business in 2019, resulting in an inability to easily obtain the traditional gray and blue uniforms we have worn. Similar styles were available, but differed in color and were significantly more expensive.
A uniform committee determined changes to uniforms and placement of required duty equipment will enhance the health and safety of our officers and will result in cost savings for our agency and in turn, the citizens of Dover.
The new uniforms will have our officers wearing navy blue, but the most noticeable part of the transition will be the outer-worn ballistic resistant vests (commonly referred to as load-bearing vests) and placement of standard equipment. These are not SWAT style uniforms.
These vests are worn on the exterior and not under the uniform shirt. Much of the duty gear previously worn on the belt will be moved up and worn in specially designed pouches and holsters attached to the vest.
Traditional duty belts can weigh as much as 25 pounds. Studies show that long-term consequences of carrying this much weight around the waist can result in hip and back problems. Back injuries are one of the most common work-related injuries suffered by law enforcement officers, resulting in exorbitant treatment costs.
The most notable study conducted by a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire research team determined that load-bearing vests are a safer and healthier alternative to the traditional duty belt, proving that load bearing vests help better distribute the weight of all of the tools officer carry, and the tools will no longer push up against pressure points on officers’ backs.
Researchers also determined that the vests do not limit the officers’ range of motion or create other issues that would be problematic for the officers from a safety standpoint.
Research has shown outer-worn vests cause a more moderate impact on the officers’ body temperature than vests worn under the uniform. Vests worn under the uniform result in dangerous core temperatures during times of physical exertion and prolonged exposure to the high temperatures we often see in Delaware during the summer months.
The outer-worn vests, in conjunction with the uniforms made of the cooler material blend, will result in a reduction of officers’ exposure to dangerously high body temperatures. More importantly, the outer-worn vests can be quickly removed if officers need to enter a body of water or if the officer requires lifesaving medical care due to trauma.
Uniforms will continue to clearly display “DOVER POLICE”, have City of Dover Police patches on the shoulder, and a badge on the left chest. The officer’s name will be displayed on the right chest as always. The uniform shirts will come in long and short sleeve configurations.
The new uniforms are less expensive than the current duty uniforms at initial purchase and the improved material blend is more durable than the traditional uniforms, which frequently require expensive replacement. The new uniforms should also help to reduce dry-cleaning costs for the department.
The health and safety of the officers’ of the Dover Police Department is the biggest priority, but the cost savings resulting from lower uniform cost, reduced back injuries and lost time due to injuries will benefit the City of Dover as a whole. A lot of time and research went into this by officers and staff members who volunteered to be on a Uniform Research Committee for six months prior to a decision being made. This included a trial period of testing various uniforms and accessories to determine the best combination for our officers’ health and safety, as well as cost savings for the agency.
The traditional gray and blue uniform will still be worn for certain assignments, court appearances, and ceremonies. However, the majority of the agency will be wearing the new navy blue “utility uniform” for normal duties.
The below images show officers wearing uniforms during a trial period in the research phase.