MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Why Police Wear Blue Uniforms

From the US to the UK, as well as in other countries, police can usually be identified by their dark navy attire. But why do cops seem to all wear blue?

While the color choice does serve an actual purpose, it was primarily chosen because it was simply what was available at the time. Police blues originated in London with the London Metropolitan Police, which was considered to be the world’s first real police force. Upon its 1829 establishment, The Met’s officers were issued dark blue uniforms. Because the British military were already wearing red & white during that time, blue was chosen as a way to differentiate the police from the military.

When the first official police force in the US was established in 1845 in New York, blue uniforms like those of the London “bobbies” became the standard. Then, as other major cities began mustering their own police forces, they too adopted the blue-colored unis.

There have been some instances where American police ended up choosing blue for totally different reasons than they did in the UK. During the Civil War, the Union Army’s blue get-ups were easy to come by, so surplus uniforms would often go to police departments that didn’t have official uniforms yet (like the LAPD). Then, by the time the war was over, blue had become the established norm.

Today, police officers wear navy uniforms for practical reasons, like making them harder to spot at night when pursuing suspects. The dark blue garments also hide stains better than some other lighter shades might.

Sure, not all police uniforms are the same color. Some departments wear black, brown, or dark green. But usually, when we think of law enforcement, we think of “the boys (and girls) in blue”.

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