Uniforms of the Washington State Patrol
|Field Operations | Aviation | Canine & Bicycle | Commercial Vehicle | Communications | Honor Guard | SWAT Team|
Welcome to the State Patrol Uniforms page. Here you will find information and photos about the various uniforms that are worn by WSP officers.Uniforms are an integral part of police work. The uniform identifies the wearer as an authority figure, and as someone who the public can go to in time of crisis.
In 2007, the Washington State Patrol was named the best dressed law enforcement agency in the nation by the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD). The judges reviewed each department’s professional appearance and uniform diversity, paying close attention to detail and written standards. They considered many factors to determine which law enforcement agency was the best dressed, including non-traditional WSP uniforms such as Canine, SWAT, and bicycle patrol uniforms.
Winter Uniform -In 1921 the Washington State Patrol was formed and the first six patrol men were issued a badge, cap emblem, and a gun.Uniforms varied and were as colorful as the men themselves. First introduced in 1937, the black bow tie has remained a constant when wearing the winter or formal uniform even today. The winter uniform consists of issued pants, long-sleeved shirt; black bowtie or issued navy blue dickey; felt campaign hat and black shoes or boots.
The winter uniform is also considered the formal uniform and worn to events such as superior court appearances, funerals, public speaking engagements, legislative duty, and when directed by the Chief.When worn as the formal uniform, the winter uniform consists specifically of issued pants, long-sleeved shirt, black bowtie, felt campaign hat, and black shoes.
Summer Uniform - The summer uniform consists of issued pants; short-sleeved shirt; white round-neck T-shirt, straw or felt campaign hat. Officers do have the option of wearing the summer uniform year-round; however the straw campaign hat may only be worn from April 1st to October 31st each year.
Summer and winter uniforms consist blue shirts with dark blue pocket flaps, French blue pants striped with dark blue, and black leather accessories. Troopers and sergeants wear a silver badge and hat braid, while lieutenants and above ranks wear a gold badge and hat braid.
Motorcycle Uniforms - Beginning in the 1960s, when the Washington State Patrol reinstituted its motorcycle program, officers wore the standard regulation uniform with their trousers tucked into military-style boots and a “riot control” type helmet.
In 1983, full riding gear was purchased, including leather riding boots, breeches, leather jackets, and half-shell helmets. In 1987, troopers began wearing three-quarter shell helmets equipped with a radio headset. The traditional cross-draw holster gave way to a strong-side holster carrying a stainless steel revolver.
Today, the leather jacket has been replaced by an Aerostich riding suit. Motorcycle officers also wear full-face, convertible helmets and Gerbing heated jacket and pant liners.
- Winter Uniform Photo – long-sleeve shirt with patch, badge, and bow tie
- Summer Uniform Photo – short-sleeve shirt with patch, badge, and open collar
- Motorcycle Uniform Photo – motorcycle helmet, black cap, and leather boots
Prior to 1991, the Aviation uniform was the standard regulation uniform worn by all Field Operations Bureau personnel. The only identifying marks on the Aviation uniform were the one-inch wings worn over the right shirt pocket. In 1991, a decision was made to change to a more comfortable and durable uniform suited to Aviation duties. The uniform selected was a gray cotton coverall/flight suit. The standard low-cut shoes were replaced with a leather boot.
For the next 16 years, this combination served the needs of the Aviation Section very well.In 2007, the cotton material of the flight suit was changed to a fire-retardant material called Nomex. This was done in the interest of safety as well as durability, since it was found that Nomex is a tougher material than cotton. At the same time, it was also decided to change the color of the flight suit from gray to dark/navy blue. This color change was made to enhance the professional image of the Aviation uniform and bring it closer in line with the regulation State Patrol blue.
Bicycle Patrol Uniform - The first bicycle patrol in the Washington State Patrol began when Trooper John Agnesani attended a bicycle patrol officer class in 1990. As a member of the Capitol Detachment, one of the primary concerns was the appearance of the uniform. The initial plan called for the same appearance as the standard WSP uniform, providing an easilyrecognizable, professional image of a trooper on a bicycle. The first uniform tested was a standard uniform that had been modified for bicycle use, followed by black bicycle shorts and a modified uniform shirt. It soon became obvious that commercially produced bicycle uniforms were needed.
The bicycle unit was officially organized in 1993 under Chief Roger W. Bruett and consisted of only Trooper Agnesani. Over the following years, other troopers were trained for bicycle patrol on the Capitol Campus, up to the currently funded level of eight bicycle-trained troopers, one sergeant, and one lieutenant. A variety of uniforms were tested for suitability and visibility over the first years of the program. The bicycle uniform eventually evolved to the current blue and black shirt, black shorts or pants, black socks and shoes, and black bicycle helmet. Troopers wear the uniform during bicycle patrol on the grounds of the State Capitol Campus and at events in the state parks during the summer months.
Canine Unit Uniform - The Washington State Patrol’s Canine Unit was developed in 1997 with two explosive detection canine teams. Their primary responsibility was security for the Washington State Ferry System. The handlers were outfitted in a dark, two-piece cotton BDU-style uniform. In 1998, the first narcoticdetection teams were deployed. They briefly wore the WSP’s Class A uniform, and then transitioned to a black nylon jumpsuit. This jumpsuit was replaced by a custom-made jumpsuit complete with sewn-in knee pads, zip-off arm sleeves, and reflective K9 Unit markings on the back. The jumpsuits came in either a one-piece or a two-piece version with snap buttons to assemble the top and bottom. This jumpsuit could also be ordered in a winter-weight, insulated model. As the Canine Unit continued to grow, these custom-made jumpsuits became cost-prohibitive and the handlers tested a variety of less-expensive, black, one- and two-piece cotton/poly/rayon options for several years before settling on the current uniform.
The current canine uniforms consist of a two-piece, wash-and-wear BDU-style uniform. The pant is a black cotton/poly blend BDU pant. The shirt is a poly blend, two-tone, royal blue over black shirt. The shirt was selected due to its moisture wicking performance and to enhance the professional image of the uniform.
In 1943, the WSP Weight Control Division came into existence and weight control officers wore the traditional WSP Class A uniform issued at that time. After an officer safety study conducted in September of 1982, it was changed to a one-piece blue jump suit to be worn as a work uniform, with the Class A uniform to be worn for court, funerals, and other formal occasions.
During a transition period in 1996, the commercial vehicle enforcement officer uniform was changed to a gray shirt with black trouser and included a black Stetson-style hat. The traditional WSP shoulder patch was also redesigned and changed to a black rectangle. In 2005, the division added a black BDU uniform that can be worn as a daily work uniform and continued the use of the gray uniform for special occasions. Also at that time, the shoulder patch was changed back to the traditional WSP style, but color-coordinated to match the gray shirt. A rocker patch signifying "Commercial Vehicle Division" was added.
Communications officers wore a unique badge with a radio tower and a unique shoulder patch on their standard trooper issued uniforms in the 1950s until the early 1970s, when they transitioned to the current badge and the standard WSP shoulder patch. In 1999, communications officers transitioned from the standard trooper uniforms to unique uniforms only worn by communications officers. Several uniform options were offered, including:
- Formal – long-sleeve shirt with patch, badge, and tie
- Informal – short-sleeve shirt with patch, badge, and open collar or standard polo shirt with embroidered organizational name
Chief George Tellevik and Captain Edward Crawford devised the original Honor Guard tunic, and the Guard began wearing it in 1987. The accoutrements of the tunic were developed through numerous discussions with unit members and followed the dress uniform of the United States Marine Corps.The tunic was left without a sidearm due to the use of the rifle for superior rifle drill movements.In addition, a custom tunic and traditional kilt were created for the Honor Guard Bagpiper uniform.
Early in 2007, tunic design wasreviewed by the Honor Guard Commander, SergeantJohn-Paul Sager, and a panel consisting of Chief John Batiste, Deputy Chief Paul Beckley, and Assistant Chief Brian Ursino.Breast pockets, action backs, additional buttons, and a more flexible material were added to increase longevity of wear, uniformity, and ease of movement. The Honor Guard members were then polled and all voted in favor of the changes. Other recent equipment and uniform changes include five Sam Browne Belts for the Detail Officers and the unit guidon (flag).
SWAT Team Uniforms
WSP SWAT was created in 1979. At that time, the team wore uniforms from the Vietnam era. Uniforms were olive drab, black, and woodland camouflage. The boots were Vietnam-era jungle boots.From 1979 to 1996, the uniforms only changed slightly.In 1996, the Lab Response Team merged with SWAT and created SIRT (Statewide Incident Response Team). SIRT members also began wearing a two-piece Nomex uniform and leather boots in addition to the woodland camouflage uniform. The Nomex uniform and leather boots were used for fire protection while operating in chemical environments. The two-piece Nomex uniforms were eventually replaced with a black and a green Nomex jump suit.
In 2002, SIRT was changed back to SWAT. SWAT still uses the Nomex jump suits. In 2005, SWAT went away from the woodland green BDU to the ACU uniform. The ACU uniform has a digital pattern and is currently being used by the U.S. Army. SWAT still uses leather boots but also has desert-style boots, depending on the team’s mission. The current uniforms SWAT uses include: