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NYPD to crack down on officers with “sloppy” appearance

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Rocco Parascandola
New York Daily News
(TNS)

NEW YORK — They’re real fashion police: Fed up with sloppy cops, the NYPD has moved to update its dress code, banning shorts on transit beats and white turtlenecks while on patrol.

The department’s updated style guide, set to take effect next month, also instructs patrol officers not to wear tactical cargo pants and reinforces longstanding guidance including a ban on shoelaces that are not black.

Inspector Paul Saraceno, who led a committee that has reviewed police attire since last summer, presented the crackdown as an effort to ensure a uniform, professional-looking force, rather than a product of any specific faux pas.

“I believe that in every profession, if you take it seriously and you act professionally, you dress professionally, you present yourself the same way, it revolves around everything you do,” Saraceno said.

“If you’re not squared away, if you’re sloppy, it speaks to who you are,” he added. “We expect professionalism in every aspect.”

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But the plan drew a rebuke from the city’s biggest cop union.

Patrick Hendry, president of the Police Benevolent Association, vowed to file a legal challenge to the new rules, predicting they would drive officers out of the the force.

“The department’s timing and handling of these changes is completely off,” he said in a statement. “The NYPD has much bigger problems to address – we are still understaffed by thousands and losing hundreds of cops every month.”

The new rules are set to take effect May 6, according to guidance issued Monday. Supervisors will still retain the power to authorize the use of short-sleeve shirts on days when the temperature is expected to top 65 degrees.

But short sleeves paired with V-necked sweaters are to be banned. Those outer garments call for a long-sleeve shirt and tie, according to the memo.

Saraceno said the department is also considering banning beards, except in cases where officers have medical or religious exemptions. In 2020, the NYPD relaxed a longstanding prohibition on facial hair.

Over the years, officers have sometimes relaxed in their selection of attire. After 9/11, for instance, more patrol officers were seen wearing cargo pants.

In 2013, then-Chief of Department Philip Banks, in a 10-page memo, outlined a crackdown on sloppy cops, urging officers to shine their shoes, cover their tattoos and straighten out their caps.

Banks, now the deputy mayor for public safety, said officers’ appearances must be “clean and conform to all standards.”

At the time, he told the Daily News that the public has more confidence in public servants who look professional.

This spring’s directive says that standard uniform pants, known as twill pants, must be worn by all officers in uniform. And choices will be limited to one style from one company.

Saraceno suggested the move is intended to prevent police partners having mismatched uniforms.

White turtlenecks, Saraceno said, are going the way of light blue shirts banned by the NYPD three decades ago. The white turtlenecks are being ushered out because they show grime quickly.

In the winter months, when the temperature falls below freezing, NYPD winter hats will still be permitted, with emblazoned NYPD lettering front and center on the forehead.

Several police officers said they too often see officers with the lettering askew. They also balked at officers who wear the approved NYPD baseball cap tilted to the side or up.

“You ever see a state trooper dressed poorly?” one officer asked. “You see them, and you know they mean business.”

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