Giving new meaning to "fashion police," the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is drawing criticism from its own deputies over the decision to replace their uniforms' silver-colored belt buckles for gold-colored ones. The Los Angeles Times reports the department is spending $300,000 to replace belt buckles, belt snaps, baton rings, and key holders to make them better match the bronze badges, lapel pins, and tie clips worn by deputies. Sheriff Jim McDonnell says the change from silver to gold will make deputies look more professional, which will in turn lead to suspects giving them more respect. "They need to exude command presence,” McDonnell says of his deputies.
But those deputies aren't so sure new belt buckles are the way to do it. The president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs says the department is "in turmoil" and has more pressing needs. The union issued a statement against the new belt buckles on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The union says the sheriff's department has an annual budget deficit of $250 million, which has left it with 300 deputy positions and 1,000 professional staff positions unfilled. Deputies work back-to-back shifts, and detectives and administrators are pulled away from their regular work and sent out on mandatory patrols. While the union understands the "desire to have a professional uniform appearance," it says this is not the time to do it. (Read more Los Angeles Sheriff's Department stories.)