And how do we find out? We see one at the GRA conference. No consultation, no suggestions invited but that’s ok, the committee decided.
So anyway, here it is and before we go further let me tell you, I don’t completely disagree or agree with my colleagues. So this is it. Let’s break it down shall we? For simplicity I will be concerning myself with the ‘normal’ uniform.
Boots: They are boots. I didn’t take boots last time, I choose shoes and the ones I’m issues are OK. Not great and there’s many Gardai that will buy their own for the comfort but I think they are medium. Not good, not bad.
Trousers: I think these will be a winner overall. Are they perfect? Nope because they are trousers not combats or cargo pants but it’s still a decent effort and is a compromise of formal and operational.
Belt: It’s a belt. Kinda hard to mess that up. It has a crest on it which I like but some don’t. Personal taste I guess.
Shirt: Oh boy, GRA and AGS, get ready for some complaining and as far as the shirt is concerned, I’m as close to a fan as you will find. First off, I like polo shirts. I wear them generally on my days off so that’s a winner for me. The colour? Deeper blue would have been nice but that was never happening and on this score again, I give it a plus because it’s not that horrible, cheap dirty blue of the previous shirt. Now at least it’s blue, actual real pure blue. Now for the negatives, that didn’t take long did it? Well let’s hit number one which I think some people won’t notice, there’s no radio holder on the chest. What does that tell you? Never to be worn on its own. That’s a pointless limitation when adding a loop couldn’t have possible made a difference in cost.
The crest and the ‘Garda’ on the sleeve. Holy moly, this needs its own paragraph. Seriously who designed this? Now first off, show me a police force that has a bright yellow logo or crest. I know its common now on Garda paper but the crest IS NOT YELLOW. It’s silver or grey and could be blue, black, even white or purple but NOT BRIGHT ILLUMINOUS YELLOW! As for the wording, the same, who writes on a blue shirt in bright yellow? Last but not least, it’s printed on. Yes folks you read that correctly. Penney’s, Dunnes stores and whatever other cheap clothes shop you can think off do not print on polo shirts. So they can get embroidered polo shirts and sell them for 4.99 but An Garda Siochana? I don’t even want to know how much was sunk into this printing job.
Tie: Is it gone or not? Is this a ‘summer’ uniform or not? This is An Garda Siochana, they tend not to spend more than they can BUT being silly and keeping the tie seems like something they would do. Never mind it’s been highlighted as a safety concern, that’s never mattered.
Epaulettes: Probable the smartest thing they did was issuing EMBROIDERED ones, Smart and easy (hint hint)
Hat: Some like the hat some think it’s should be formal only and a baseball cap or optional wearing should be brought in. I am not a fine; it’s old and serves no purpose that a simple baseball cap can’t. A baseball cap is more disposable, comes in more general sizes and can be issued quicker when replacing not to mention cheaper. Mind you, some don’t like that route and I’m nervous about it being done right (probable end up with a giant yellow sticker on the front) so how about making it optional. Would a Garda exposing their hair really be so terrifying and / or demeaning to the public?
Stab-vest: The vest interior is fine, it stops weapons to some extent so that’s fine but the cover is rubbish. For starters it is NOT designed for external wearing, it’s just not, it’s an internal vest. You can see that from the straps that hold it. Secondly, no pockets. Personally I don’t mind the belt but I can see the advantage of carrying some stuff on the vest. Now we are getting a high vis version. That’s been looked for and wanted for a long time. We also wanted pockets and proper straps. So? Well I guess one out of three aint bad right? I mean, it’s not like we wait ten years for these things is it?????
Jacket: No change it seems and that’s ok, jacket is fine for me BUT if you are wondering why we wanted high-vis vest covers look no further this summer than a Garda wearing a giant yellow plastic jacket in the middle of the July or August sun. You see, high-vis is for visibility isn’t it? So let’s make them wear them 24 /7 and be super visible. Catching criminals? Who cares? Dehydration? Who cares? Sneaking up on suspects? Who cares? Anyway, it seems this issue will be resolved.
So what’s my verdict? Mixed. I think it’s better than what we have and I need that vest cover to replace the jacket. I do also like no tie underneath my vest BUT do we really need to wait another ten years to correct such obvious problems?