Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tactical hat

Most Lincoln police officers of my vintage are predisposed to dislike their uniform hat.  I think the reason for this is that we were forced to wear them when we were rookies—all the time.  Get caught with a bare head, and some form of punishment would be meted out, wildly disproportionate to the violation.  As a result, the eight-point police cap came to be a symbol of the boot of management pressed against the neck of the proletariat. 

For the most part, LPD officers were relieved when our new chief made the hat optional in the late 1970’s, except for weddings, wakes, funerals, and football.  I was a bit of a holdout, along with a handful of others, who carried my hat and wore it from time to time even after it was optional.  Although it provided little protection, it was still better than nothing for an easily-burned redhead like me (yes, I once had hair).   The bill helped shade my sun-sensitive eyes, and at 5’9” (just a smidgen taller than the Sheriff, I like to claim), I also appreciated the perception of a couple extra inches in some circumstances.

So, as something of a hat holdout, I was impressed last week when I watched a video of our patrol officers in the flotsam and jetsam of bar break downtown on a weekend night.  What is that—a whole squad in hats?  Joe Carroll would approve.  The video made evident why several of our officers have recently decided to sport their hats at certain times.  You had no trouble seeing one another in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.   I would deem that a wise tactical move.



Eric said...

I've thought that tactical hats have always looked sharp and (I don't like to use the word, but...) professional. Have the hats changed from the old uniforms to new???

Anonymous said...

You should be thankful your officers don't have to wear the "Smokey Bear" type hat the State Patrol has.

About thirty years ago I was in my big rig out by North Platte on I-80 and a State Trooper (Silver Bullet?)was on the shoulder talking to a four wheeler. I was bringing up the rear in a line of several 18 wheelers. The wind draft from one of the rigs in front of me whipped the hat off the troopers head and deposited it right in the path of my right front tire in the far left lane. It would have been too dangerous to try to swerve and miss his hat so in the interest of safety I flattened it. Although I had absolutely no choice but to run over his hat I have felt bad about it all these years. However from what I saw of the expression on his face when I saw him in my mirrors I decided it was best to just put the petal to the metal.

Did I do the right thing?

Gun Nut

Steve said...

Gun Nut:

Since you were in the back of the line of trucks, it seems to me you might have safely backed over the hat to make sure it was flat enough not to pose a traffic hazard to others!

Anonymous said...

Chief-I saw two traffic stops on the Kansas turnpike yesterday. One KHP trooper had on the campaign hat, full uniform, Sam Browne belt, polished shoes. One had on a ball cap, tactical jumpsuit, tactical boots, and a cordura nylon equipment belt.

It shows my age, but the guy in uniform (while less practical and comfortable) just commanded respect and looked more like a trooper to me.

I loved my Buco motorcycle helmet. I hated the soft hats. What I really hated was the tie. By the way, was that a regulation clip-on you're wearing in the picture? Or was it some early Second Chance kevlar tactical tie? At that width, I think that tie could block your vision on a breezy day.


Anonymous said...

Gun nut, there is no statute of limitations for decorative headware infractions.

If you're not already in custody, you will be.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

In some cases, the hat makes the 'uniform.'

Tom Casady said...


Regulation clip on, but I sure don't remember that width, either!
I'm betting you were a hatless offender on a few occasions.

Gun Nut-

Running over a troopers hat, or taking out two cars in the inside lane...let me think. I'll take the two cars--better chance of survival. I think you lucked out.

Eric said...

Edit my early morning fog and rush to work from tactical hat to uniform hat, sorry.....

Anonymous said...

Is that Doogie Howser dressed in a Halloween costume?

Anonymous said...

Chief-Good bet I was hatless and issued pink paper on occaision.

Gun Nut-I forgot about the Silver Bullet. I met him once somewhere near Lexington or North Platte as I recall. I was minding my own business at about 20mph over whatever the limit was and my now 32 year old son piped up from the backseat that a trooper was stopping me. Never saw him coming. The guy was a legend.


Jim said...

If I had bar break duty I think I'd rather wear a Motor Officers issue hat! On the other hand I think I'd want more coverage than they offer for either use.

David Bratzer said...

Here is my tactical hat rant:

They are bulky, expensive, awkward to carry and they reduce driving visibility when placed on the dash of an already jam packed police car. They get in a way during a use of force encounter, make it difficult to look up at second floor balconies and they are useless in a foot pursuit. They are easy to lose. They don't breath well and they are difficult to clean.

In a real downpour you get water down the back of your neck (as opposed the combination of a police ball cap and a gortex jacket with a hood).

Young adults don't like them. They reduce the appeal of the job for recruitment purposes. Junior and front line officers don't like them - they're bad for moral.

Few people, given the task of designing headwear for a modern police uniform, would suggest the tactical hat. Yet they are forced on officers as a relic of a bygone era. My personal view, as you can probably tell, is that these hats are terrible for front line police officers.

That said, I think that forge caps remain an important part of a full dress uniform, and they are entirely appropriate for police funerals, veterans day parades and similar functions.

Steve said...


If you ever go the ball cap route, I hope you at least require your officers to wear them with the bill facing forward.

Brandon said...

It seems to me like the police in large cities wear those hats more often (Chicago for example). Then too I have never really seen a rural cop wear one, so maybe it's true the larger a city is, the more they're worn!

Anonymous said...

Sheriff Andy Griffith never wore his hat while Deputy Fife always wore his. 'Nuf said...