Phoenix police upset with dress code changes

PHOENIX - The new Phoenix police chief wants officers to dress a bit more formally, but he's getting a lot of resistance.

Chief Daniel Garcia has only been chief for a few months, but he's already making changes in the department's policy.

Some of those changes are not sitting well with officers.

On October 1, officers will have to dress it up. They will be required to ditch their polo shirts and cargo pants in favor of the more traditional police blues.

For the past 15 years, officers have had the choice to wear what union leaders call a more comfortable, lightweight uniform.

Officers say it's more comfortable and ergonomic, since they get some of their gear off their belts, higher on their vests,  off their gun-belts.

Now officers will have to step up to the more traditional button-up shirts with straight-leg, not cargo-pant style of uniform.

The chief has said it will help the public differentiate between real cops and impersonators , but more than 100 officers have already filed grievances and union leaders are trying to fire back.

"I think where the disappointment comes in is where the chief acted very rapidly and with little to no input from his labor groups," said Ken Crane of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. "He didn't consult with the sergeants and lieutenants group, didn't consult with us. He's just kind of going down that path, this is what we are going to do. It was thrust upon us very suddenly, and everyone is scrambling to react."

ABC15 did not hear back from the chief on Monday when we asked for a comment.

Union leaders will meet with the chief on Tuesday to reiterate their concerns, and they are hoping to at least delay the uniform change or convince him to do away with it all together.

The Phoenix Police Department released the following statement about the change:

On October 1, 2012, Phoenix residents will begin seeing a standardized uniform appearance from their Phoenix Police Department, as a new uniform policy will go into effect.
 
The Phoenix Police Department strongly believes this uniform change is in the best interest of the community we serve and our department. Most significantly, we understand our role as a highly visible component of your neighborhood's safety. The community must easily recognize Phoenix Police officers. Whether officers are patrolling neighborhoods, conducting subject and traffic stops, or answering calls for service at private residences, our officers' presence should not be questioned because of a uniform type.
 
Given a growing trend of suspects impersonating police officers, during home invasion style robberies and fake traffic stops, it only makes sense that we do everything we can to help avoid conflict with our residents. This is an issue of safety not only for residents, but for our officers as well. A uniform is intended for identification and recognition. Having our first responders in one uniform will help visibly distinguish our police force. 

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