Police beanies get OK, helmets must wait

By Maggie McNaughton

The police are considering bringing back beat helmets for officers - more than a decade after they were axed.

The distinctive hard-hats were discontinued in 1995, but a recent review into the police uniform has revealed strong staff support for their re-introduction.

While this is still under consideration, beanies have been given the thumbs-up and accepted as part of the official uniform.

Inspector Jason Ross, Operations Group general duties support manager, said yesterday that a decision on the helmets would be made by May.

He said feedback from staff had indicated support for helmets because they portrayed professionalism and clearly identified police officers.

"If it does get accepted, it may not look like it used to back in the early 1990s and late 1980s. It may be a more modern version."

Mr Ross said the helmets were discontinued because at the time it was believed they didn't fit the modern image of the police force.

"There were also complaints they were hot and uncomfortable."

The review took a year to complete and looked at all elements of the New Zealand police uniform.

Mr Ross said the review produced three key findings - there was a lack of national consistency with the uniform, staff didn't fully understand the process for getting new uniform items approved, and uniform guidelines needed to be clearer.

Police beanies will be introduced this winter and will be navy-blue with a police emblem on the front.

However, there will be guidelines surrounding their use.

"It's not the kind of headwear that we want [officers] walking down Queen St in the middle of summer wearing," said Mr Ross. "They should be worn in the appropriate situation, which is cold weather.

As well, new shirts for under stab-resistant body armour will make the wearer feel less damp and hot.

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