Monday, March 9, 2009

Hat etiquette

I'd like to raise a question, particularly to those who wear a hat as part of a uniform, but also to anyone who wears a hat on a regular basis: what rules of etiquette do you try to follow regarding your headgear?

For those with uniform hats, does your department publish specific rules regarding hat etiquette, and if your uniform includes multiple headgear options, (department ball cap, more formal brimmed hat, brimless knit cap, etc.) do they vary based on the hat itself? Are women in the same uniform hat expected to follow the same rules? Do you alter those rules to suit certain situations, or just flat out follow what your parents taught you regardless of policy?

For reference: Evil Swede's Guide to Hat Etiquette.


Matt G said...

My PD has no hat policy, so I play it by ear. Hats in our PD are entirely functional, rather than ornamental. We wear them for weather, which tends to indicate that they are outside-only artifacts.

I know of a very few agencies in which the policy is that an officer shall wear his hat whenever he is in contact with the public in uniform. As he is considered to be "under arms," while in full uniform (wearing his pistol), he can wear the hat inside, as well, rather than remove it when entering a building. I know of one particular veteran officer that worked in such an agency that, as a rookie, took advantage of such a policy to add some spice to his shift, by insisting on wearing his peaked uniform hat into a packed dive bar every time he did a walk-through, knowing full well that someone would take a swing at his hat or throw something at it. He recalls how he would gleefully put a particularly bright luster on the hat badge before shift, looking forward to the inevitable scuffle that would result. This was some years back, and he's since mellowed a LOT, thank Gawd.

KD5NRH said...

I expected that "under arms" would figure in the equation. OTOH, I have noticed that a lot of the older locals will treat the department ball cap as less of a part of the uniform, removing it at the table or upon entering a house, at times when they wouldn't necessarily remove the peaked hat. The younger ones are less predictable with it, except that most only wear the ball cap unless told to wear another hat. (Including fluffy, warm deparment knit caps during the winter.)

The sheriff, OTOH, either picks people with impeccable hat manners or trains them well; the Stetsons seem to come off on greeting a lady, entering a house, or sitting down at the table unless both hands are already occupied by a gun. I've even seen one try to juggle the hat, pen, flashlight and ticket book while writing up a local teacher. (To be fair, she was a long-timer at the school, so he probably had early-childhood memories of lectures on manners from her.)

brian said...

Thankfully, our FD only requires the dress cap for certain formal occassions, or quarterly station inspections by the battalion chief.

Use of the dress cap for daily use (interacting with public) has fallen by the way side since the 1980s.

We are allowed to wear official department ball caps when working outdoors, but guys wear 'em at night too...great for hiding bed-head on 2 a.m. EMS calls :)