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Saturday, Apr 19, 2014

For deputies, green will be the new white

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LARGO — When a survey last year asked Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies whether they wanted to switch from white to green uniform shirts, comments ran the gamut.

One deputy wanted black, which wasn’t among the options. Another wanted blue or gray, which weren’t options either.

Opinions touched on fabrics, dry-cleaning bills, tradition, safety and the possibility everyone would end up looking like a forest ranger.

“I like the white shirt,” one wrote. “I wear my long-sleeve shirt every day. ... I have been told by many citizens they like the way we look.”

That employee, it turned out, was in the minority. Of the 704 deputies who responded — 82 didn’t bother — 70 percent preferred a green shirt over a white one.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is testing several green shirts before deciding which he thinks all deputies should wear.

“The best practices in policing are not white shirts,” Gualtieri said Wednesday.

Deputies often have to throw on jackets on hot nights if they are searching for criminals; otherwise, the white shirts make them a moving target.

Some of those taking the survey suggested deputies working at night wear green and those working during the day wear white.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office switched to green last year. The only other agency Gualtieri knows of that still has white shirts is the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Still, as the survey showed, there are concerns other than safety.

“The white shirt can be difficult to keep clean and looking good,” one deputy wrote. “The only advantage to the current uniform is the fabric is easier to keep pressed than the polyester shirts that are commonly used by other agencies wearing dark uniforms.”

Another deputy was a little bit more to the point on the matter.

“Great idea,” the deputy wrote. “This would save me money in dry cleaning costs.”

sthompson@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-6504

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