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Uniforms and Expenses

Annual Report, Hallowell, 1899
Annual Report, Hallowell, 1899
Courtesy of Sumner A. Webber, Sr., an individual partner

In the late eighteen hundreds and into the early nineteen hundreds, the police clothing varied depending on which state, city, or town you were were assigned to. Police officers wore light undershirts and a heavier warmer jacket to cover them, and these two items were normally tan and brown.The fabrics were made of mostly wool and rarely made of cotton because of its expense. The jacket had one or two rows of hard, steel buttons often having decorations imprinted or engraved on to them.

Officers would wear a thick black or brown, leather belt (depending on the color of the cow hide that was used.) Their shoes were often leather with metal clasps. In some cases, the police had hats with a badge representing their status or rank. Each of these badges stated the name, rank, and department of that officer. These uniforms may or may not have emblems or designs corresponding to the bureau they worked in. Over time, the uniform changed. Today's police wear uniforms that are of similar design and color making it easy to identify them. The fabrics have changed from the heavy wool to now polyester and cotton which is lighter and easier to move in. They also have defenses built into most vests and no longer need to wear a tie while on the job.

The following is an example of the expenses of the city of Hallowell’s police department from 1898-1911 recorded in Hallowell's annual reports. In the years 1898-1911, the costs were reduced from $937 to $75. This may have been due to start up costs for the police force in 1898. During 1905-1906, the costs of the police department stayed at $83.45. Also from 1907-1911, the police expenses decreased to $74.15 per year. The 1920’s saw several changes in the police force. The biggest change in law enforcement was the ending of miscellaneous jobs such as dog catching, licensing, and inspecting things like cars and houses.