Like many people who work in Washington DC, I am a transplant. However, I don’t work for a congressman or a law firm. I walk a foot beat in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods as a member of the Metropolitan Police Department.
I grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts and credit my personal style largely to my late grandfather, who himself worked a blue-collar job for 25 years with the Bay State Gas Company. But in his personal life he dressed like a Kennedy. In high school, when many people my age were wearing American Eagle graphic tees and basketball sneakers to school, I was wearing LL Bean OCBDs and Sperry Top-Siders. Even my own mother seemed a little perplexed by it when she took me shopping for my Confirmation outfit when I was a sophomore in high school. I picked out a blue blazer and gray flannel trousers instead of a garish four-button ventless suit that was in fashion at the time.
I graduated from the police academy in April, 2012 and am presently assigned to a very busy district with a high rate of violent crime. As a result, I end up in DC Superior Court for trials and other matters at least once a week. In the beginning I wore my police uniform for most of my court appearances. However, after being flagged down one too many times for various nonsense, I decided quickly to wear professional attire to court to blend in a little more easily.
It didn’t take long for word of my buttondown collar shirts and Weejuns to spread among my fellow officers and the attorneys. I am now affectionately known as “Penny Loafer” or “The Professor.” Jokes aside, my style does elicit many compliments from people, and I actually think it may help me when appearing before a jury, as they can see me as a person like they are and not just a cop.
Of course, as a civil servant I have to buy on a budget. But I keep an eye on thrift shops, eBay, outlet stores, and online stores such as Lands’ End and LL Bean. But I’m hoping to make detective later this year ,and I’m told investigators get a healthy clothing allowance.
While my style is referred to by many as Ivy or preppy, I personally think of it more as simply New England or Yankee. When people ask me why I dress the way I do, I often quip, “Where I come from, this is how people dress.” People from all over the world come to Washington, bringing their cultures and traditions, and my manner of dress is just my little thing that tells people where I’m from. I think I also do it to honor my late grandfather. Sadly, he didn’t live to see me become a police officer, but I think he’d be very proud that I dedicated myself to this honorable profession.
It’s a tough time to work in law enforcement right now, but I do my best to use my position to remind people that police work is all about helping people. That’s what I set out to do every day when slip off my boat shoes and lace up my boots to start another shift. — DC COP