By BECKY KISER
The Hays Police Department has worn the same style uniform since 1950, a dark navy shirt and pink-tan pants.
It’s recently become difficult to purchase the pants from the supplier in the same color and material, according to Chief Don Scheibler.
“The Hays Police uniform is no longer uniform,” Scheibler told Hays city commissioners last week.
The uniforms are also uncomfortable, hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and not very durable, Scheibler added.
“The current belt system also puts all the weight on the officer’s hips, causing lower back problems.”
HPD has budgeted $46,500 in 2018 to purchase a new style of uniform for all officers.
An employee committee evaluated several uniform brands and is recommending Blauer which comes with a removable outer-ballistic vest carrier system, as well as a high gloss leather duty belt.
Scheibler thanked the committee for its work, saying the officers are “excited” about the new uniforms which he described as “professional, and a traditional dark navy made of a durable poly-wool blend.”
A suspension system in the vest is designed to take its weight off the officer’s hips and put it on the shoulders, reducing back injuries. “This will hopefully help reduce workman’s comp costs, officers being on short-term disability and long-term health problems for the officers,” Scheibler pointed out.
The vest is easily removed when an officer is working at a desk. “I can probably get it on or off in 15 seconds,” said Ofc. Dakota Reece, who modeled the proposed uniform.
The new style pants have six pockets which allow more storage for the officer when on the street. Long sleeve shirts will also be ordered for cooler seasons.
“Very sharp looking,” said Commissioner Sandy Jacob.
The Topeka police department utilizes the same Blauer uniform, and has been very pleased with its durability, Scheibler said.
“In 60 years, fabrics have changed, times have changed, and police didn’t carry all this equipment,” Vice-Mayor Henry Schwaller noted.
Chief Scheibler agreed. “In 1993, that short time ago when I started, a revolver and a couple of speed loaders were all we had. This is truly a better benefit for officers working the street.”
The commission will vote on the recommended uniform purchase at the Oct. 25 meeting.