Some Phoenix police officers upset with new chief's decision about uniforms

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Change is coming to the Phoenix Police Department, and some officers aren’t embracing it.

The change has to do with one of their uniforms.

The new Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia is axing the polo shirts and cargo pants.

Starting this fall the utilitarian uniform is no longer allowed on the job.

“Emotions ran the gamut, from anger to disappointment to people saying why is this being done,” said Ken Crane, V.P. of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association or PLEA.

Crane disagrees with the chief's decision.

The top brass wants to cut down on officer impersonation.

Something the chief said has been a problem in the past.

“We kind of see that as frankly a bit as a straw-man argument. All of officers took a little offense to that,” said Crane.

Crane said all of the uniforms can be impersonated, even the traditional uniform preferred by the chief.

The chief wouldn't go on camera with 3TV, but a department spokesman did.

Sergeant Trent Crump said the department made it too easy for people to impersonate the uniform with the black cargo pants and black t-shirt.

Crump said the traditional uniform unites the department and the polyester blend look is easier for community members to identify.

“As you know Arizona is known for its hot summers and when you're out there pounding a beat for 10 hours in 110-115 heat, personal comfort becomes a big deal,” argued Crane.

Crump said Phoenix police officers have worn the traditional uniform for decades and most of the officers at the South precinct chose to wear the uniform daily.

“I can't say that's an argument that's going to change his (the chief’s) decision on this,” said Crump.

The utilitarian uniform has been around for 15 years.

Crane said the cargo pants and the polo top offer comfort on the job. 

“We have guys that part of their job is to chase bad guys down alleys, jump fences, sometimes get in fights with suspects, that's probably a better uniform to do that in,” said Crane.

According to Crump, uniformity is meant to boost morale.

“They're saying the morale is already been kind of low and this puts it even lower,” argued Crane.

The new uniform policy goes into affect beginning this October.

Union leaders hope the chief will change his decision and sit down with them to discuss different options.