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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, November 14, 2017
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Come to think of it
with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia



How do you find the camo uniform being worn by most of the policemen out on the streets these days?

Call me a nitpicker but I don't like it.

The frumpy camouflage look doesn't look like it belongs in cities that are supposed to be safe and progressive. It makes policemen look sloppy and makes me feel like I live in a war zone. Police business may be none of my business but if you ask me, I prefer the snappy blue uniforms.

I Googled the PNP uniform and found out on www.pnp.gov.ph/resources/pnp-uniform that the one we keep seeing a lot of these days is called the “Camouflage Green FSU” and is Type “A” and for the exclusive use only of the PNP personnel assigned in the various Mobile Group Companies (Regional, Provincial and City) involved in counter insurgency operation (sic) in rural and forested areas.

After browsing through the uniforms in the website, I discovered that the “snappy blue uniform” I prefer over the current trendy camo is called the GOA Type C. As per the same website, this for the use of all police commissioned officers and police non-commissioned officers as their daily office attire in Police Provincial Offices, City Police Offices, Police District Offices, and Police Stations and its attached PNP units. There is also the light blue, collared Patrol Uniform that looks comfy-looking and practical for our climate although it is not as snazzy as GOA Type C. Aside from being more comfortable and practical, it is also friendlier-looking and a more visible reminder of police presence and I wouldn't mind seeing it overtake the current camo trend.

The Camouflage Green FSU being worn by most of the policemen I see in our cities does not make police officers look good and if you ask me, the battle-ready look doesn't make our towns and cities feel safe either. Fashion-wise, it makes them look frumpy. Image-wise, it makes them look unapproachable. Visibility-wise, it makes them look invisible. Perception-wise, policemen in that sort of uniform makes our towns and cities feel like we are under continuous threat of an impending terrorist or rebel attack.

The PNP under this administration has one of the biggest budgets in the government and it is possible that the new camo uniforms are our officials' way of showing off their new duds. It could also be how the PNP leadership wants to make us feel safe, by making the populace feel like their PNP is on a war footing, always ready for trouble. Or maybe the frumpy look, complete with rolled up sleeves, is a way of paying homage to the sartorial preferences of their commander in chief.

People will tell me that as long as the police do their job and keep us safe, the uniform shouldn't matter. That would be true in an ideal world but in a country where the police are getting a terrible reputation for “nanlaban” deaths and extra judicial killings, making them look like they are going to war everyday doesn't exactly help their image.

Call me paranoid but if I happened to lose sight of my 12-year-old boy in a public place and saw him being escorted by a camo-uniformed cop, I would feel panic instead of relief. In fairness to the cops of Negros Island, I wouldn't panic as much here as I would if that hypothetical situation were to occur in Metro Manila. However, if it happened in Caloocan City, I would probably have a heart attack.

My point is that the image and reputation of our police isn't at a very good place right now and the current choice of uniform being used by cops on patrol in urban areas isn't helping them much. Instead of looking like community helpers that are keepers of the peace, cops in frumpy camo look like they are itching for a killing. The uniform may seem like a trivial matter for many but if you come to think of it; what our cops are wearing goes a long way in whether citizens of a place feel safe or threatened.

In a society where cops look like they are always ready for a firefight, will we have to compliment their look by getting into the warzone vibe and don helmets and flak jackets as well? Is this our government's way of normalizing the martial law vibe? Or is the frumpiness and war-like vibe of the policemen's camo uniform just a pet peeve of mine that doesn't really mean anything?

If you look at the bright side, my noticing their frumpy uniforms means police visibility must've improved of late. Even when they try wear clothes that were designed to make them invisible, we can still notice them. Hopefully the sight of camo police uniforms is as effective at deterring criminals and criminal activity as much as they unnerve people who don't like frumpy camos that give off that uncomfortable and creepy warzone vibe. *

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