Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 1.

Jeffrey Grunthaner



When appraising the inglorious spectacle of oppression known as policing throughout the world, (adorned in raiments of the state, barking arbitrary commands), the question of taste inevitably emerges.

In a world linked by networks of global exchange, dapper uniforms are always in. They signal tradition and authority over the upstart immateriality of nascent life. Should you find yourself, one night, stumbling bleary-eyed through one the world's major cities, skill in identifying a potentially arresting officer is essential. Here are some of the looks to look out for.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 2.


United Arab Emirates

15,000 officers

Dubai isn't just home to architectural opulence founded on the backs of migrant workers, it's also where some 15,000 police officers sport olive green, military-styled shirts, whose forest green color is offset by bright red threading wrapping around the left arm and epaulettes at the shoulder. An essential accessory, both the male and the 1,400 female officers carry semi-automatic handguns. The ensemble doesn't include a body camera, as of yet.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 3.

São Paulo


100,000+ officers

A Facebook-blue shading off into cerulean outfits the 100,000 officers who police the streets of the São Paulo municipality of Brazil. In a region where the crime level is nothing short of critical and outright war is seemingly waged every day, the São Paulo police were responsible for the deaths of 11,197 people over the last five years. Women officers have their own units, although their uniforms are similarly styled. Boy or girl, a charming outfit is accessorized by a Taurus PT24/7 PRO LS in .40. The outfit doesn't include a body camera, but this is likely to change.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 4.



30,200 officers

Ahh Paris, the haute couture capital of gendarmerie fashions, has some 30,200 officers in blue uniforms equipped with a trendy standard issue handgun—the Sig Sauer SP2022. Officers adorn themselves with occasional regalia, such as handcuffs, a baton, an incapacitating spray, and a Flash-Ball: a handy weapon that shoots rubber bullets into crowds. Is this graceful blue uniform burdened by a body camera? It will be soon, according to some reports. Currently, one might argue that Paris's comparatively moderate crime rate makes wearing one unnecessary.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 5.



~710 officers

In Reykjavík, Iceland, there are about 710 police officers, the majority of whom wear a street-savvy navy blue uniform with Icelandic police stars stitched into the shoulders. Accessories include extendable batons and pepper spray, but these gorgeous folk are trained to only use their issued firearms in certain situations and they do not carry them by default. In fact, the crime rate in Reykjavík is extremely low, and it wasn't until 2013 that a person died within the city limits due to a police operation. That shooting only occurred after the police were unable to subdue the suspect with tear gas. This was the first person to die at the hands of the police in Iceland's modern history. For more on what can be accomplished in a deep blue uniform, check out the Instagram of the Reykjavík police.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 6.

Los Angeles

United States

9,843 officers

Police in LA are known to cruise the beat in spacious Fords patterned in white and black, dressed in midnight blue uniforms belted with a Beretta. If that sounds too drab, consider that this ensemble can also come equipped with a body camera. Boy or girl—19.2% of the LAPD's sworn personnel are female—this outfit means business. And in LA, the cop life is busy indeed: from January 1, 2000, to August 31, 2014, the LAPD has reportedly killed 589 people

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 7.



5,400 officers

In Toronto, police act as peace officers and are presently 5,400 strong. Uniformed officers sport a Glock 22: Large frame .40 S&W with 180 gram jacketed hollow point bullet. Their forge hats, worn throughout the year, have a mesh band around the crown, allowing breathability during hot weather. In cooler weather, a band of red poly-cotton braid is worn over the mesh to keep the heat in. On really cold days, officers wear the heavy ear-flapped ushanka. A future accessory might be a body camera. In a city where the crime rate is comparatively low, only 26 officers have been killed since 1957. The total tally of female officers wearing either the navy stiff, twill, cotton-blend shirt that forms the attire of cadets, constables, sergeants, and staff sergeants or the thinner white shirts distinguishing senior officers, is 600 (about 12%).

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 8.



31,400 officers

In Metropolitan London there are 31,400 full-time police officers supported by 5,000 part-time volunteer special constables. Male officers traditionally wear what is called a "custodian helmet," which give them that "bobby on the beat" flare, while the more than 8,000 women who patrol Londontown with a bowler hat tastefully checkered in white and black. But don't stare too hard, uniformed officers often wear body cameras, so they can see you watching them even if you don't know it. These officers are not routinely armed, although at least four deaths have occurred at the hands of London police since 2005. 

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 9.

New York City

United States

34,500 officers

The NYPD's current uniformed strength is approximately 34,500, including 6,200 female officers. Beat cops in NYC sport one of three 9mm firearms. A rookie can choose from the SIG Sauer P226 DAO, Glock 19, and Smith & Wesson 5946. In a city with a comparatively high crime rate, 13 officers have died on duty. But that pales in comparison to the 179 people killed by the NYPD over the past 15 years—only three cases having led to an indictment, and only one of which led to a conviction. In a city subject to the extremes of weather in every season, outfits vary from the standard blue duty shirt with matching cargo pants, to a short sleeve blue shirt with an open collar, to a turtleneck/jacket combo (great for super frosty stop-and-frisks in the winter). Rumor has it that this ensemble will soon include a body camera, giving arrestees an inside scoop on the force's sartorial splendor.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 10.



22,775 officers

A corps of 22,775 police officers patrol the scattered expanse of Berlin, the common run of whom dress in a deep, midnight blue. In the German nation as a whole, only 85 bullets were fired in 2011; from 2013 - 2014, German police killed no one at all. For special occasions, a uniformed officer in Berlin might carry a machine gun. Not generally, though, as Berlin is pretty safe, with 1.8 homicides occurring per 100,000 people. Throw in a tasteful body camera now and then, and you're ready to ride.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 11.


Northern Ireland, UK

7,000 officers

A police force some 7,000 strong promenades through Belfast. While most of Great Britain law enforcement wears an iconic deep blue—hence the nickname “boys in blue”—Belfast police uniforms are a nearly black shade of green, delightfully known as “rifle green” until 2002, when the name was changed to “bottle green.” Because this is Northern Ireland, the St Patrick’s saltire acts as the central feature of the police badge, which also includes an olive branch to represent peace, as well as a shamrock, naturally. Despite the legacy of violence, American police killed more people in March than the entire UK police (which includes cops in Northern Ireland) have killed since 1900. Due to elevated threat levels, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) routinely arms its officers with Glock 17 pistols, as well as long arms in areas of higher threat. Belfast uniforms have been known to come equipped with cameras, and officers can carry weapons off-duty. There are not many female officers (despite female applications doubling) in a region ranked as one of the least peaceful areas in the UK.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 12.

St. Petersburg


3,000 officers

In St Petersburg, Russia, police have 3,000 sworn officers. The Russian police uniform got a full makeover in 2012, featuring lighter, more versatile fabrics with a membrane structure that is both breathable and waterproof. Prior to the overhaul, officers had only two choices—summer or winter—neither of which was a good look for milder seasons. And for the first time ever, all officers will now have a badge—an honor previously only bestowed to higher-ranking law enforcement. High crime rates in the '90s led to poorly trained and nervous officers being armed with imprecise automatic weapons, leading, in turn, to unintended body counts. In recent years, those high-powered assault rifles have been replaced with slightly lower-powered ones in hopes of reducing errors. In May of 2015, it was announced that Russian officers would be receiving body cams and, in a thoughtfully coordinated move, they will be manufactured by the same company that handles their dash cams. Specific stats for the number of women on St. Petersburg's force are hard to come by but we do know that female police exist in Russia because 20,000 courageous cadets were paraded out to celebrate V-Day in 2011.

Uniforms of Fear: cop fashion from around the world. Image 13.



43,000 officers

In Tokyo, there's a ratio of about 1 police officer for every 290 citizens: about 43,000 in total. The uniform style can best be defined as business casual, with the jacket free and summer-ready “shirt-sleeve order” taking precedence. Stab vest and duty belt complete the look, with a jacket worn seasonally or for a special occasion. Female uniforms are virtually identical, except for a delightfully flipped bowler hat instead of the cap worn by their male counterparts. These officers are forbidden from carrying weapons off-duty, and they invest hours studying martial arts, as they're expected to use force only in the rarest of circumstances. Under special conditions, uniformed officers will wear cameras—that would also apply to the 14,900 female police officers operating in Japan nationally. While Japan officially has a very low crime rate, some have speculated that this is largely the result of a police culture obsessed with keeping crime statistics low, only investigating homicides when there is a clear suspect and frequently labeling violent deaths as suicides in the absence of autopsy.