The Minneapolis Police Department’s SWAT team is getting new uniforms to minimize the perception of a “militarized” look.
The police department said they will not eliminate any necessary equipment but will just change the color from military green to dark navy blue, which the department says is more consistent with traditional police uniform and equipment colors.
Police department officials say they made the change after community members both locally and nationally voiced concerns about the militarized look of the SWAT team. They say the SWAT team is not a military unit and is not trained by the military, so they want to help change that perception.
Almost every day, Minneapolis Police Commander Scott Gerlicher suits up in blue and white. However, when the 60 men and women he oversees on the SWAT team respond to a call, they wear that army green and camouflage.
“It’s no secret; There have been concerns at the local level about the militarized look of the police department,” Commander Gerlicher said. “I think there is a certain level of confusion sometimes by people that see vehicles and or officers that roll up in camouflage or military green equipment wondering what’s happening.”
Commander Gerlicher said that the color change is relatively simple to make and could make a difference in public perception.
“We are police. We’re not military. We don’t train with military. We’re not associated with the military. We’re the Minneapolis Police Department and we want to be reflective of our own community and our own image.”
Commander Gerlicher says the blue SWAT uniforms will cost well under $50,000 and that the department will start rolling out the new look over the next two years. Some green will still remain out on the streets for a little while but as the the more expensive tactical vests and helmets wear out, the department will start replacing those items with new vests and helmets in navy blue.
The SWAT team is comprised of Minneapolis police officers who have specialized training and equipment; most of the team members have full-time duties as patrol officers and sergeants, department officials say.