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Psychological Influence of the Police Uniform

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 70 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2001 Pages: 27-32
Richard R. Johnson M.S.
Date Published
March 2001
6 pages
This article considers the psychological influence of the police uniform.
The article reviews the social significance of clothing, the power of the police uniform, changes in the uniform style, the influences of color, and officer safety concerns. The uniform of a police officer conveys the power and authority of the person wearing it; it is a powerful clue to the wearer's authority, capability, and status. It also has a subconscious psychological influence on people. Citizens in the presence of a person in uniform cooperate more and curb their illegal or deviant behaviors. Alterations to the traditional paramilitary police uniform can result in changes in public perception. The style of the clothes, the type of hat, the color of the material, and even the condition of the clothes and equipment have an influence on how citizens perceive officers. The article suggests that police administrators give serious consideration to their uniform policies, including selecting a uniform style, following regulations on properly wearing the uniform, maintaining the uniform, and designing policies to address when officers may wear plainclothes. Notes