Keeping cops from freezing their ears off
The beginning of October ushers in the time when many police departments switch from short sleeves to long sleeve uniforms in anticipation for cold weather. Headgear for officers becomes more important as the Gales of November, Alberta Clippers and cold Nor’easters bear down on the two pleasant peninsulas.
Most patrol officers today wear black wool (fleece or acrylic) stocking caps or watch caps with white POLICE embroidered on them. They do not blow off, they are warm and they fit in a jacket pocket when not in use. They are completely utilitarian, and officers seem to like them. I have similar fleece hats (without the POLICE) in the pockets of most of my jackets and coats — just in case.
From the Stormy Kromer website
Unfortunately, most stocking caps make a full grown, fully armed, well trained officer and impressive defender of our community look like a grade-schooler on his way to a snowball fight. The stocking caps with the wind stopping nylon make the officer wearing it look a little like Dumb Donald from the cartoon Cosby Kids when the nylon lining droops below the knit cap. Is there not a uniform hat that is warm and looks good?
When I was a patrolman, the only options for headwear in the winter was the uniform cap with the shiny black visor or the navy blue faux fur troopers hat. Back then, we wore "Class A" uniforms with wool pants and a tie in the winter. Today officers wear "Class B" uniforms which used to be called fatigues or BDU's (battle dress uniform), and they do not have to wear a hat if they don't want to.
The Class A visored uniform hats were cold and liked to blow off in high wintery winds, inevitably finding their way into the only unfrozen slush puddle on the block.
The faux fur trooper hat looked like an anemic version of a “Mad Bomber’s Hat.” Oh jeez, it is the style of hat that Frances McDormand wore in the movie Fargo, eh?
Trooper hats were goofy looking but were warm and sometimes made the male wearer want to yell, “On you huskies!” like Sgt. Preston of the Yukon. I wore one when I walked a beat, but my vanity would never allow me to lower the earflaps or, heaven forbid, snap the chinstrap to keep the earflaps down.
I preferred the blue faux fur collar of our old jacket to keep my ears warm. Unfortunately we learned those fur collars were like sponges for the irritants in tear gas one year when March Madness turned into Student Insanity on South University Street. Uniform coats do not have the faux fur collars anymore.
If one decided to use the earflaps on a trooper hat, you had two equally dopey options for wear. If you lowered the earflap,s they would sometimes flop out at 90 degree angles from the hat and wearer. In fact, on midnights, officers would wear them in this fashion not for warmth, but to produce laughter from other officers when the shadows they cast looked like a bull moose.
I have one final suggestion for police administrators to consider. This option is warm, currently in vogue and made right here in Michigan — instead of a foreign country where most stocking caps are made. These hats stay on your head even in high winds and are equipped with earflaps that stay tight on the cap when not in use or tight to the ears when pulled down.
I am speaking of course of the Stormy Kromer hat. I am the proud owner of several Stormy Kromers, and they are great hats. They make a black hat which would look better then the stocking caps and less goofy than a trooper hat flying its earflaps.
I must confess I am not a real fan of the string ties in the front, but those are there to adjust the hat and, more importantly, the earflaps. I suggest the Stormy Kromer manufacturers could design a small POLICE emblem to conceal the adjusting laces or thread the POLICE emblem on a piece of elastic. At any rate with some slight modifications these hats could become the next big thing in cold weather headwear for officers. What do you think?
Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.
Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for AnnArbor.com. He also serves as the Crime Stoppers coordinator for Washtenaw County.