Hats on or Hats Off

I’m a hat man, always have been and always will be. At the age of 14 I joined the Army cadets and wore a beret for the first time and wore one daily during my four years of military service. When I joined the police I found wearing a helmet somewhat strange at first but quickly took to it. My police flat cap was hardly every worn during my 28 years police service because as a uniformed constable I patrolled on foot and it was only on night duties that I would get to ride in a Panda and occasionally the area fast car that I wore my flat hat.  I always wanted to join the CID and as such I only wore uniform for around 3 years. I was issued a bright yellow cap to wear in the event of a firearms incident and thankfully I never needed to wear it. This particular bright yellow cap was so bright and gaudy I used to tuck it deep into a pocket to avoid it being seen, but I kept it handy just in case the wheel came off. No self respecting robber or other armed criminal would ever wear such a florescent yellow cap and as such the firearms officers could easily identify police officers. I like hats, but didn’t care for this one very much.

Now I’m retired I’m rarely seen out and about without my Fedora or on a particularly warm summer’s day a straw trilby style hat. I like a hat and feel more comfortable wearing one than not. It has however become very apparent to me in recent years that police officers wear uniform hats far less than they used to and it’s not usual to see an officer speaking to somebody minus their hat. I don’t know if this is a deliberate policy or just something that has crept into police culture. I do remember during my brief uniform duties that removing my helmet sometimes helped to defuse a potential volatile situation and allowed the person I was talking with to see a human face rather than a head with a helmet. The wearing of a helmet helps identify an officer in a crowd and is I believe an important symbol of law and order, however times change and if officers are going to go hatless more and more then so be it, but personally I like to see officers wearing full uniform which includes a helmet or hat.

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