Just when you think times have changed…

I’ve been spending some time at the Vancouver Archives researching various aspects of our city’s history.

A letter of correspondence from one police agency (not the VPD), dated from the 1920’s, stated their department’s women police officers were responsible for ’emergency and constructive work with women and children’ and their duties were considered ‘protective-preventative’.  Police women did not work in general patrol, did not carry firearms, and did not do any of the duties carried out by policemen.  They were thought to have enough work in the Women’s Division that they would not be required to attempt the same work as a man.

Jump ahead to 2011 – Women now have the same policing duties as their male counterparts, and are (or have been) employed in all units and squads within the Vancouver Police Department.  It’s usually a good mix, because men and women bring something a little different to the table.

But one things drives me crazy – the uniforms.

Or, more accurately, the lack of women’s uniforms.

The Dog Squad is one of a few sections within the department where officers wear a specialized, task specific uniform.  As dog handlers, our uniforms are more rugged, more comfortable and more suited to our jobs.  Called BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform) or TDU’s (Tactical Duty Uniforms), the uniforms are an excellent choice for urban policing and should be considered for all uniformed sections, including patrol.

We purchase the uniforms from a large company, and up until last year they did not make a task specific uniform for women.  For the first few years as a dog handler, I tried wearing the men’s uniforms but found they did not fit well/were uncomfortable and I ended up wearing a uniform that was half law enforcement and half paramedic.  The men’s shirts are okay, but the women’s shirts are a joke as the pockets are tiny and do not even fit a notebook.  Almost every single female police dog handler I spoke to ran in to the same issue, and most were wearing the paramedic pants or had their uniforms custom made and flown in from Ontario.

The company finally produced the BDU/TDU uniform in a women’s cut in late 2009, so I was a very happy officer to finally have the required uniform.  It is super comfortable and far superior in quality to that currently worn by patrol.  After speaking to the other female dog handlers, our overall response to the uniform has been, “FINALLY!”

Here’s the kicker – the company does not produce the same uniform in green or a summer weight material (like they do for the men), and I sent them an email last week to ask if such a uniform was in the works.  They replied within a day to tell me, “No, but thank you for your email.”

Now I am forced to source out another supplier if I want to be properly equipped.  The only problem is, no one else makes the required uniform either.

What’s a gal to do?  It might as well be 1925.

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I should start my own uniform company…

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