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Published: Thursday, 10/5/2006

Toledo police capture fashion award

Errant threads from a uniform are cut off as, from left, officers-to-be Gerald Barnswell, Scott Bailey, and Joseph Okos, Jr., prepared for their graduation recently from the Toledo Policy Academy. Errant threads from a uniform are cut off as, from left, officers-to-be Gerald Barnswell, Scott Bailey, and Joseph Okos, Jr., prepared for their graduation recently from the Toledo Policy Academy.

Call them the fashion-able police.

Clad in navy pants and medium blue shirts, Toledo's finest are now considered among the nation's best dressed.

City crimefighters tied with Tulsa police for having the best uniforms for departments with more than 200 officers in a competition sponsored by a trade group representing the uniform industry. The nod allows Toledo officers to show off their threads by striking a pose in the October edition of the monthly law enforcement magazine Law and Order, which will be mailed Oct. 12.

Chief Mike Navarre said the recognition sparked a memory of something then-Sgt. Joel Kaminski, now retired, told the chief's class at the police academy in 1977.

"If you look sharp and feel sharp, then you'll be sharp," the chief recalled yesterday. "It's something that stuck in our minds. We laughed about it then, but it's good advice."

This was the first time the department entered the Best Dressed Law Enforcement Competition, sponsored by the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors, which is based in New York City.

Navarre Navarre

The force and its garb supplier, Superior Uniform Sales of West Toledo, will receive plaques at noon Tuesday at the business' Phillips Avenue location. Three hundred T-shirts announcing the win will be handed out.

"A policeman's uniform is his pride," said Bill Darah, chief executive officer of the uniform and accessory supplier, which has had a contract with the city since 1983.

More than 137 nominations in 11 categories were reviewed by association judges during the 29th annual competition. The categories were broken down by size of department or type of agency, such as county or state law enforcement entities, said Jackie Rosselli, a spokesman for the uniform manufacturers' association.

Association President Richard Lerman said his group doesn't have and can't provide a breakdown of how many agencies Toledo competed against. However, he said, "the competition was pretty serious."

The competition calls attention to the role of uniforms in identifying law enforcement, which provides public security during a crisis, and fostering pride among officers, Ms. Rosselli said.

City police entered the competition earlier this year after Mr. Darah said he approached former Chief Jack Smith about it when he was at the uniform business. Sgt. Richard Murphy submitted the application and photographs of the force's uniforms; the uniform supplier provided written specifications, such as fabric content.

"I give the department credit. They've always had strong, tight specifications," Mr. Darah said. "TPD has always been very conscious of their specifications."

While its uniforms haven't changed dramatically in years - Chief Navarre said the same basic shirt design has been around since he joined the force - officers are allowed to wear cargo pants that have more pockets and shorts in the summer. Command officers, except sergeants, wear white shirts. The honor guard and bike and mounted patrol units, among others, have specialized wear.

Mr. Darah said other area law enforcement agencies that his family's business supplies have entered the competition, but none have placed first. Bowling Green police won an award in 1984, he said.

Contact Christina Hall at:


or 419-724-6007.

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