Why Police Stereotypically Wear Blue

Why Police Stereotypically Wear Blue


Police Officers and the Color Blue Police services like the NYPD and the LAPD
are bona fide pop culture staples that have been featured in countless movies and TV shows.
Their distinctive blue uniform is known the world over, but have you ever stopped to think,
“Well, why is it blue?” If so, wonder no more. It turns out, beyond some of the
modern reasons for continuing to do it, there initially was a very simple explanation as
to why blue was chosen. For starters, why they keep the colour today-
according to “The Psychological Influence of the Police Uniform“, the colour blue
has several functions in relation to a police uniform, one of the main ones being that it
is much easier to clean and maintain than a lighter/brighter colour and that it shows
stains and marks less easily. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense. If someone was
thinking of buying 18,000 police uniforms, they’d probably want to buy the ones that
were easiest to clean. Also, nobody would trust a police officer in a dirty uniform
unless he was currently holding a kitten he’d just pulled from a fire or the like; decking
officers out in a uniform that doesn’t show stains easily is just good common sense.
Another reason listed by the boys in blue today is that the dark shade of navy blue
makes an officer harder to see at night, making it easier for them to sneak up on bad guys.
In fact, in 1996 Baltimore County police officers working the graveyard shift stopped wearing
white uniform shirts for that exact reason. Of course, whether this is really helping
the officers or not is up for debate. This change wasn’t backed up by studies or research
of any kind, but to quote one of the officers involved in the switch “The officers feel
safer with the dark shirts on at night. It’s the perception, and the perception is as important
as reality.” Speaking of psychology, according to a study
done at the University of Georgia on 98 test subjects (Color-emotion associations: Past
Experience and Personal Preference), the colour blue subconsciously evokes feelings of comfort
and security in most people, supposedly making it a good choice for people in a position
of authority to wear. Now, we should point out that colour psychology, while currently
being heavily researched particularly by marketers with compelling results, is not yet fully
understood, so take that previous sentence with a pinch of salt (or perhaps a mug full).
So up to this point, it’s really just been a matter of practicality and a bit of pseudoscience
in terms of why police wear blue. But is that why police first started wearing these colours?
It turns out there is a little more to it than that. As recorded in the History of the
LAPD, when standardized uniforms became a thing for the police across America shortly
after the mid-19th century, years after the first state wide law enforcement agency (now
known as the Texas Rangers) had been established in 1835, many officers were simply given surplus
(navy blue) Union army uniforms to wear. Conversely, in the UK when the 1829 Metropolitan
Police Act was brought into effect, essentially creating the country’s first proper, paid
police force, they made the deliberate choice to dress their officers in blue to contrast
with the, then bright red uniforms worn by the British military. This choice was made
almost entirely to distinguish the officers from military personal, and hopefully help
make them look more like regular people on the street; it was also partially for this
reason that initially, the police in the UK were unarmed. In fact, for a time the police
in the UK were literally only given a rattle to call for help with and a wooden truncheon.
Regardless of the initial reasoning behind the choice of the colour blue for uniforms,
it stuck and as the uniforms in both respective countries were redesigned and made more comfortable
and functional for officers as the years went on, the colour scheme has remained, for the
most part, the same. As you’re probably aware, not all police
officers in the states wear the traditional blue uniform you’d see on a beat cop in
say, New York City. This is mostly due to the fact that historically each state was
responsible for designing and implementing uniforms for its officers. As a result, not
every state went with the “just chuck ‘em in old Civil war uniforms approach“. In
fact, initially, many police officers didn’t even want uniforms due to the fear it would
make them a target of mob violence and ridicule. (Not surprisingly, many officers saw fit to
arm themselves before guns became standard issue.) As an example of just how resistant
to this change some law enforcement agencies were, the Orange County Sheriff’s office
didn’t make a uniform compulsory for its officers until 1938.
Bonus Fact: • Sports teams or athletes wearing red have
been noted to consistently perform better in various forms of competition over the long
haul. Why? Well, no one really knows, but one study to determine the root cause indicated
the officials may be at least partially to blame. Specifically, “As part of their study,
the researchers had 42 experienced Taekwondo referees watch two videos, each of which included
11 fight sequences. In the first video, one athlete wears a red trunk protector while
the other wears a blue one. The second film shows the same exact scenes, but with the
athletes’ colors switched by digitally manipulating the tapes… On average, athletes scored 13
percent more points when they were wearing red than blue.”

100 Replies to “Why Police Stereotypically Wear Blue”

  1. Here in America, city police officers typically wear dark blue BUT county sheriff deputies typically wear tan/khaki. Why? So to distinguish them from city police. Just like how many state troopers wear campaign hats to distinguish themselves from city police and sheriff deputies. Just as the FBI has their agents wear dark business suits to distinguish them from city police, sheriff deputies, and state troopers. Just as the Men In Black wear black suits, white shirts, black ties, and black sunglasses. LOL

  2. Anyone in Scotland interested in police history and uniforms is recomended to visit the Glasgow police museum, it is free entry and really interesting! Run by a retired police officer with a passion for collecting police uniform and equipment!

  3. swedish police districts were responsible for their own motor pools for a very long time. until 1961 the police district of åmål only had two bicycles in their motor pool.

  4. In Ireland a facist group called the "blueshirts" (Eoin O Neill) were given power as "Financial Protectors" now, they're in charge of "The Strawmen" (Us)

  5. The navy blue color is proven too be effective night time camouflage. Historically Ninjas wore a dark blue and not a black in night missions. Also the light reflected from the moon is a shade of blue.

  6. In my own experience Police in the UK wear black more frequently (I don't know the numbers), and it's the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, not 1929.

    Why have you got that date right in the subtitles but not verbally?

  7. I always thought it was because Firemen are associated with the color red, and since blue is a contrasting color to red, Policemen chose blue. I have seen olive green pants/tan shirt on cops in rural areas in the U.S. and also light blue shirt/dark blue pants, and also full black uniforms but those are usually reserved for tactical teams.

  8. There is a counter example with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. When it was first organized as the Northwest Mounted Police, it was consciously decided that their uniforms would be have bright red tunics for the Native American nations in the prairies to associate them with the British forces and definitely not with the American blue uniforms. That would remain as the traditional Red Serge dress uniform of the Mounties. Even today, that tradition is followed to some degree with many police uniforms have red decorative stripes on their dark blue/black uniforms.

  9. Sheriff's Office, State Patrol, I've always seen them in either tan or green.

    Also, not all Police wear blue. I've seen jet black uniforms a lot more than just navy blue.

    Oh, about safety in the dark…

    Those with well-trained eyes can see the silhouette of a person regardless of what they're wearing…I'm one of them. It's no fool-proof tactic.

    About being invisible in the dark, that is a double edge sword; you can't be seen but what happens if you can also not see? Yup, another pitfall.

  10. IN this episode, you mentioned that police in Great Britain adopted blue uniforms to distinguish them from the military. This prompted me to wonder why police departments use military ranks like sergeant, lieutenant, and captain for for some of their positions.

  11. As I understand it in the states, the tan or khaki uniform is typically worn by the sheriff's dept. Police wear the blue.

  12. First organised police force to survive into the future was in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1800, then in Edinburgh in 1805, well before Mr Peel. Chequered cap bands to clearly identify officers were introduced in Glasgow in 1932, known as "Sillitoe's tartan" after the then Chief Constable. Police Scotland, an amalgam of all previous city and county forces now wear black uniforms. Other forces which still wear green are the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Carabineros de Chile. Until recently Australia's Northern Territory Police wore green and original 1860s Queensland Police were clad in green with red trouser stripes. If the rapidly becoming universal dark blue is so public friendly, why do so many forces now wear bright fluorescent green "safety vests" over the top? Overall colour-coordinated green would be much nicer. I really like the old (1936-1973) NYPD black, white and forest green patrol cars – very smart.

  13. funfact: real ninja common camouflage for night infiltration is actually navy blue. its because navy blue actually harder to detect than black clothes with naked eye at night.

  14. Why does this channel focus on the USA? Other countries exist. How about police uniforms in Italy, France, Australia, Canada?

  15. So color bias is a real thing. It's red for sports, blue for police, green for military, all with variations.

  16. The police in America are doing everything that they can to look more intimidating to the citizens. Black combat uniforms, imposing black or dark blue SUVs instead of white sedans.

    Where I lived in Maryland, the police had worn a tan uniform for decades, only SWAT wore black combat style uniforms. Now everyone wears a black combat suit. Why? According to a friend who is a captain on the force, it makes them more intimidating.

    Let's not make our police approachable to the common man, let's make them more intimidating. Oh, you'll say "They need to intimidate the criminals." Newsflash, most of the public are not criminals.

  17. The Hampshire constabulary freemasons have to wear blue because if they wore brown It would blend in with them in general (I.e Brown is the colour of shit… THE Hampshire constabulary freemasons are SHIT) the Bent Hampshire constabulary members would look naked if they wore brown uniforms.

  18. West Virginia state police uniforms are olive drab green because at they're formation they were originally issued ww1 army uniforms. To this day they even wear the army style wide brim hat. Google them, it's a good looking uniform

  19. Nobody would trust a slob police officer, but since their uniforms hide stains, now you have to!

  20. Thank you for yet another good, informative video. I wish to submit that while a great many American police departments wear blue, there are notable exceptions. In Virginia Beach, Virginia, their color is grayish. But they call it blue. And other variations exist.

    Also in the U.S., county law enforcement agencies, usually called a sheriff's office or department, will frequently dress their officers in a tan shirt, with trousers in a matching or a contrasting color. A few chose medium or dark green for trousers, which I also like. A few such agencies were entire green uniforms. Very sharp looking, I say.

    Since you brought British police into this, I have always wondered about the row of marks on the one sleeve. (Not the rank.) So, what is it?

  21. Having just photos and you talking in the background is much more uncomfortable to watch than the previous form with you enthusiastically speaking visibly..

  22. our country had greenish grey uniforms. as well as some agencies wore grey camo pattern. now they are changing to blue.

  23. What I find amusing is that the color for the police is blue and the color of the Law of God regarding the Sanctuary is blue. The priests wore blue, among other colors, to signify that they follow God's Law. An "Officer of the Law"? I thought this was a neat thing to consider.

  24. I do support the police, but I would like to know why they are switching to battle dress uniforms (BDU) like the army wears? I live in a small town and the police look like they are going to war.

  25. in australia alot of our police forces would wear a light blue shirt and navy or dark blue pants than most changed to dark or navy and in the northern territory they used to wear khaki and that always stood out but than also changed to dark/ navy. but our SOG and SERT teams some times wear multicam and other camos probably when hunting suspects through bush area

  26. Wait, what…? That last bit about red scoring higher than blue in the same video is the most interesting and unexpected thing here and you just squeeze it in with no follow-up at the last second! Do a video on that, how color biases our judgements would be something to find out TODAY!

  27. The laps uniform is nicer than the nypd it’s more professional looking and smarter, the cargo pants the nypd wear aren’t as nice as the classic trousers worn by lapd

  28. Now that you know why the police typically wear blue check out this video and discover How the Media and Police Estimate Crowd Sizes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V00oi5PT540

  29. The adoption of dark navy blue color uniform aka "midnight blue",was for night time duty when officers respond to a suspect they(cops)won't be spotted so quickly as they are getting closer.

  30. The sport score change with the color change was really interesting. Many people have also said not to get a red car because they get more speeding tickets, I wonder if that is legitimately true and if it is then does it have to do with whatever reason the judge gave the participant wearing a red a higher score slightly more than the blue, I believe he said 13.something percent higher. I’d love to see more research, maybe have that judge do the same thing under an FMRI or something to see if it’s something in his brain that lights up every time or not.

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