Intimidating police uniforms

"The professional dress, with the blazer—[the Burnsville police] didn’t look like the police in the cities where they had problems," Couper says. They saw our recruiting posters on campus: 'Join the Other Peace Corps.'"Couper, who soon headed up the force in nearby Madison and implemented his ideas in a larger city, encouraged officers to remove their hats while on walking on the beat, even at night.

And he asked that they refrain from wearing those iconic reflective aviator sunglasses while making traffic stops.

Indeed, the history of police uniforms is an illustrative tale of the history of American policing.

What we've asked—and allowed—police officers to wear throughout history has influenced what we've expected of them, how we feel about them, and how they feel about themselves.

And after wearing the uniforms for a year, assaults on police officers dropped by 30 percent.

Injuries to civilians by police dropped 50 percent.

That’s why police departments like the one in Ferguson over these last weeks have armored vehicles, night-vision goggles—and camouflage pants.

The cops sort of looked like flight attendants, but that was the point: The dress was part of Couper's larger effort to professionalize his force, and to attract more college-educated officers to Burnsville.“The uniform provides a shield,” Michael Solomon, a psychologist and marketing specialist at Rutgers University, told the Times in 1994."I think it's a backlash to the touchy-feely approach that drove many departments to make themselves less intimidating."Soldiers at war operate under a code of domination, not service," they write. When police organizations look and act like soldiers, a military mindset is created that declares war on the American public.In this mentality, the American streets become the 'front' and American citizens exist as 'enemy combatants.'"Chief of Police David Couper puts it more simply.

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