Since 1997, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has proudly worn the green and tan as their official daily uniform, but all of that is about to change as they roll out a redesigned and rebranded uniform for a modern law enforcement agency.
According to Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, starting Monday every deputy with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office will report to work in the new uniform, a sleek all-black, multi-piece, performance-oriented uniform he says will be cooler, more cost-effective, more comfortable and easily adaptable.
"It sounds like it's no big deal, but there’s a lot of history in that uniform,” Freeman said. “It’s still us. We're just in a little newer, more performance-oriented uniform that still has a really professional look."
Freeman said they have been designing the new uniform for more than four months, but the redesign had been a priority for him. Nearly 80 percent of the sheriff’s office reported wanting a change. He said their main priority was creating a uniform that is as functional as it is professional.
The new uniform consists of a top vest worn over a black-collared performance shirt and black pants. Freeman said that the top vest can be worn out in the community, providing a “rock solid mounting location” for a body camera or other piece of technology and can be removed for comfort in other situations like filling out paperwork at a precinct or taking a break.
With 80 body cameras coming to the sheriff’s office in the near future, Freeman said they are ready to get started putting the top vests into action.
"From the chest up, it's just like a uniform shirt and from the chest down it’s a high-performance, moisture-wicking material," Freeman said. "Now when they have been somewhere, if they have been hot and sweaty, they can drop that top vest off and still have a professional appearance."
In a video the sheriff’s office released to the community earlier this week, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Kevin Pittman displayed just how easily the top vest can be tossed on, flipping it over his head with a deft flick and later pulling it off to drape over the back of his office chair.
Freeman said that when he took office the biggest complaints he heard about the uniform again and again were function and comfort. They hope this new design covers both in one shot.
"I really like working with the new uniform,” Pittman said in the video. “The outer vest is almost too comfortable, really relaxed ... and I think it still maintains its professional image."
Freeman said that that balance between professionalism, comfort and function was exactly what they were going for, without straying into the territories of “too casual” or “too tactical”.
“We didn't want to look like we were in some tactical gear," he said. “Also I'm just not a big fan of polo shirts and cargo pants as a traditional uniform.”
“You know officers garner a lot of respect by the way they look in uniform, and we wanted to make sure we kept that professional appearance, and I think this does that."
Along with the comfort and professionalism, Freeman said that the new uniforms also come with significant savings for the department. Currently, the sheriff's office budgets about $160,000 per year for uniforms. Freeman said this redesign will save about 20 percent of that cost.
He said with the new uniforms they will also be able to reduce the number of uniforms they have in inventory, giving them less to keep track of and deal with.
"This wasn't me just wanting to change the uniform,” Freeman said. “I used to joke that if I got shot I'd bleed green and tan. I have a lot of history in this green and tan, but it's not a real functional uniform, it's costing us a lot of money and it's hard to get."
In addition to the uniform, the sheriff’s office also redesigned their logo with a black and gold color scheme that was voted on by the organization.
“I think the gold and black pops,” Freeman said. “It actually wasn't even my first choice, but I let them vote on it and that’s what they wanted."