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New uniforms for St. Paul police officers

The new version bid farewell to the "French Blue," but now has more inclusive sizing and flexibility.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Journey through the decades of St. Paul Police uniforms, and you'll find similarities but mostly differences.

"We've had a myriad of different uniforms throughout our history since 1854...we've had green uniforms, so it's changed," SPPD Sgt. Amanda Heu said. 

The uniforms over the years have changed to adapt to the changing needs of officers, and the department itself.

With a growing number of female officers, the department thought, once again, it was time for another change. Currently about 15 percent of the St. Paul police force is female.

"One of the big disadvantages of our older uniforms, was the fact that there weren't size availabilities for women," Heu said. "So for the history of my career, and many female officers before me as well, we were wearing men's clothing."

"[The old ones] didn't fit me, so it was just kind of straight, it wasn't form-fitting to me," SPPD officer Brianna Kisch said. "And the movement part, it didn't give. So because they were men's pants, the crotch area was longer, so if I had to take a bigger step over something, or if I had to bend down, I had to literally hoist my pants up."

And as one of the last few departments in the nation to don the "French Blue" uniforms, they were getting harder to find suppliers too.

Heu said losing the unique color was probably most contentious. Afterall, the French Blue uniforms have been around since the last uniform change in 1964.

"Didn't have a lot of people that were in the middle ground, there was an absolute 'yes' for all the perks that came with the changes, and there were the absolute no's," she said. "Primarily because of the pride, especially with more of our senior officers that came with wearing a uniform that separated us from other departments."

Along with the sizing and color changes, Heu said they also rolled out a utility vest as an option to the utility belt, which was great news for officer Kisch.

"I already have a bad hip due to the weight of the belt being on there daily," she said. "I already go to the chiropractor...I don't think I'm old enough to go to the chiropractor as much as I do. The vest takes the weight off the hips."

"By removing the 30 pound weight off of your waist, you now have that flexibility in your hips and your joints to be able to run to be able to jump," Heu added.

Heu said they've put an emphasis on having the officers finally feel like themselves in something they wear daily.

"It's inclusive to not only women but we also have a lot of smaller statured men as well," she said. "That really having the dexterity of multiple types of uniforms allows for people to feel more comfortable people to not feel as boxy, and take more pride in their self image and professionalism and how they look in uniform."

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