Racine Police Department changes uniform color

RACINE (WITI) -- Out with the old, in with the new.  The Racine Police Department is getting a new look - in their uniforms, that is.

Hundreds of officers are phasing out the light blue uniforms with the dated patches and going dark navy.

“We wanted something to look like a uniform, not a janitor's outfit,” said Lt. Chuck Weitzel.

Baby blue has been the uniform color since 1962, making Racine one of the few police departments in the country that still uses it.  Through the decades and different manufacturers, officers there have seen many shades.

“You can have officers in the street corner and have as many as 6 different shades of blue,” said Weitzel, who is also the Chairman of the Uniform & Equipment Committee.

The committee conducted a survey asking officers if they want to keep up with new trends or stick to old tradition. More than 60 percent of the department's 200 officers said a change is needed.

“I just think this gives a cleaner cut and we just look more professional,” said Investigator Melissa Diener.

“I like the tradition of the light blue.  It made us unique and different than everybody else, but I think this change is good for the department,” said Lt. Jessie Metoyer.

They said the dark blue hue helps bring "uniformity to the uniform," thus boosting morale.  In terms of public safety, it can help too, especially at night.

“We might not want to be seen until we get to where we're going with domestics, robberies, things like that,” said Metoyer.

The uniform change is just a part of an even bigger makeover.  Eventually the squad sedans will be Tahoe SUVs, bringing institutional pride to a force whose “look" has been long overdue.

“We decided it was important and was needed, so we undertook it,” said Weitzel.

All Racine Police officers will be required to wear the dark blue uniforms by June 1.  Officers are given a clothing allowance, so there is no added cost for the change.