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Officers Banned From Wearing NYPD-Promotional Items
New York City police officers are no longer allowed to wear NYPD-branded items while off-duty unless they receive special permission, according to a recently-updated patrol guide rule. The ban applies to T-shirts, hats, pins and jewelry, and also restricts the city’s 35,000 officers from purchasing NYPD-logoed products like pens, coins and mugs. “The department wants to deter the unprofessional appearance associated with unauthorized police-related logos and slogans,” said Paul Browne, an NYPD spokesman, in a statement.
Per multiple reports, the policy change was made after NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly saw a police officer wearing an offensive T-shirt with the NYPD logo on it. Kelly has not commented publicly on the new order, but it appears the decision was made because there have been related incidents in the past. The New York Daily News has reported NYPD officers were once caught wearing T-shirts with a picture of city detectives standing over a dead body. On the shirts were the words: “Brooklyn Homicide – Our Day Begins When Yours Ends.”
Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has been openly critical of the rule change. “Telling police officers what images or objects he or she can own or wear in their private lives is a clear violation of the officers’ free speech rights, possibly other Constitutional rights and collective-bargaining rights,” said Lynch. “Many private citizens proudly wear NYPD apparel and police officers can’t? It makes no sense.”
Speaking at a news conference, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the rule. “We say that they’re on 24/7 when they are not officially at work,” he said. “At home they’re still police officers, and that’s one of the things that enhances the safety of our city, one of the reasons they have permits to carry guns. And so they’re not totally independent even when they are not on duty.”
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