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The Riley County Police Department will change the color and design of its uniforms for the first time in 46 years.

The Riley County Law Board unanimously approved the change Monday during its monthly meeting.

Changes to the uniform will include improved durability, multi-season comfort and utility as well as switching from light blue to navy blue and are largely based on input from RCPD officers that was submitted through an employee survey.

“I can tell you, based on my own knowledge of police history, if you look at police uniforms from the 1900s and the 1930s, ’50s, ’70s, it’s a constant evolution,” Dennis Butler, RCPD director, said. “That evolution occurs because of the work that officers do and how it changes (and) the equipment that they carry. The availability of certain fabrics and materials has changed greatly.”

In addition, the new uniforms will be machine washable, have altered shoulder patches, have pockets and be less susceptible to fabric tears.

One concern Butler had about the addition of pockets was possibly compromising professionalism, but he says recent changes have improved how they look.

The new uniforms, which are being provided by a vendor located in Junction City, will cost about $85,000. This is down from the original total of about $127,000.

Of the total cost, about $14,000 will come from the RCPD uniform fund while the remaining $71,000 will come from unexpended personnel funds.

A few of the uniforms currently being worn by RCPD officers will be kept on hand for formal occasions, such as promotions, award ceremonies and funerals.

RCPD officers will begin wearing the new uniforms in the coming months.

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