Surprisingly, the students largely favored the officers dressed in all black.
Perhaps, Nickels hypothesized, their preference had something to do with their desire to be protected.
It appeared that the officers' dress had deeply affected their jobs and their communities.
Over the next 50 or so years, police departments of the pre-World-War-I era pivoted toward public services to their local communities. police departments moved towards militarization in an attempt to transform the police into an effective and corruption-free workforce.
Hyperlocal relationships grew up between police departments, citizens and politicians, The antidote, many felt, was professionalization. As Herzog wrote in a 2001 article in According to the newly defined "professional" police goals, law enforcement became the exclusive and main specialization area of the police, to be formulated in terms of the intentionally quasi-military metaphor, "war against crime" (rather than a campaign or a struggle against it) by aggressive military means.
They had also led to serious deterioration of relationships between police departments and the communities they were meant to serve.
In Burnsville, Wisconsin, Chief of Police David Couper decided to experiment.
In the early 1970s, he authorized his special operations units to wear a new kind of uniform, consisting of navy-blue blazers, blue trousers, and clearly written name tags.
The cops sort of looked like flight attendants, but that was the point: The dress was part of Couper's larger effort to professionalize his force, and to attract more college-educated officers to Burnsville.
"Soldiers at war operate under a code of domination, not service," they write. When police organizations look and act like soldiers, a military mindset is created that declares war on the American public.
In this mentality, the American streets become the 'front' and American citizens exist as 'enemy combatants.'"Chief of Police David Couper puts it more simply.
"Take the glasses off, make eye contact, make sure they know you’re a human being," he told his force. In 1969, Menlo Park, California, police traded in their navy blue uniforms for forest green blazers worn over black slacks, white shirts and ties.
In Madison in the mid-1970s, while patrolling a crowded event that had become violent in the previous year, Couper's officers went without their hats, walked by themselves rather than in large groups, and were instructed to greet every four or so pedestrians. After wearing the new uniforms for 18 months, the officers exhibited fewer "authoritarian characteristics" on psychological tests, criminologist Richard Johnson wrote in a 2012 .
Eighteen months into the blazer trial, officers discovered, assaults on police officers began to rise steadily, until they were double the amount of the year before.