Q&A on the News

Q: I wonder why the policemen in Atlanta very seldom wear any headgear, yet you see policemen in New England wearing headgear of some kind. Is there a reason for this?

—Will Kinard, Sandy Springs

A: Atlanta officers are issued headgear and wear hats in ceremonies, but they aren’t required to wear it on routine duty.

“In the early 1990s, it was mandated by policy, which was strictly enforced, that any time an Atlanta police officer was outside of their patrol cruiser, the cap must be worn,” Warren Pickard, a public information officer for the Atlanta Police Department, told Q&A on the News. “That policy has since been rescinded. Atlanta Police officers traditionally wear a uniform cap during special ceremonies, officer’s memorial services and funerals. The cap is commonly worn when directing traffic as well.”

Officers are issued a uniform dress cap, uniform baseball cap and seasonal caps for inclement weather, Pickard said, but the hat traditionally served more of a purpose than just protecting an officer’s head from rain.

As with a military organization, police departments have uniform standards, and the cap is part of the overall impression that the uniform conveys.

“It has always been common belief that the uniform cap provided authority to the uniform,” Pickard said. “It provided a level of command presence, which is an essential part of officers’ safety. The belief is that if an officer looks sharp and professional in uniform, officers are less susceptible to a physical attacks.”

Allison Floyd with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).

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