Column by Loretta Redd
The dust-up between Mike McGrew of the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association and Chief Cam Sanchez over what motorcycle pants should be worn reminds me of a petulant child stomping his foot at having to don his Sunday best for church service.
Giving the term, “fashion police” a whole new meaning, I researched not only styles and materials covering the bottoms of our sworn officers, but also the origin of the term: too big for your britches.
Historically speaking, it was Davy Crockett who wrote An Account of Col. Crockett’s Tour to the North and Down East in 1835: “I myself was one of the first to fire a gun under Andrew Jackson. I helped give him all his glory. I liked him well once: but when a man gets too big for his breeches, I say Good bye.”
If only we all could “say Good bye” to the exaggerated sense of importance that the POA seems to have acquired recently, the city would certainly benefit. I never thought we would have to create an anti-bullying campaign to protect our police Chief from own officers’ union, but that’s what it sounds like.
The most recent example of POA versus management comes in a material form; literally. There was a time when the city motorcycle police wore wool pants; then they began wearing looser, “snowboarder” type britches with shorter ankle boots rather than the tall riding boots of old.
I won’t belabor that neither alternative look particularly good on overweight officers, but I will point out that the California Highway Patrol– the most revered motorcycle enforcement team around– so appreciates its 100% wool or wool/poly tighter breech pants, that it is illegal to try and mimic their uniform.
And we can’t forget the 1898 hero of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, Teddy Roosevelt, and his band of Rough Riders. This motley collection of native Americans, college athletes, cowboys and ranchers didn’t seem to have a problem taking San Juan Hill dressed in Mounties-style britches and tall boots.
Whereas POA union leader McGrew contests that the “armor” afforded by the new, baggy padded pants offers more protection from accidents, no one seems concerned for those poor suckers on bicycle patrol. I’ll bet their bike shorts don’t cost $150 or more. And what about the rest of the patrol force, riding in those hot, stuffy patrol cars?
Maybe we could commission a new uniform consisting of Hawaiian shirts and board shorts, with a smart reflective stripe down the side. Come to think of it, our cops might catch even more of the local criminals if they blended in.
I’ve got a better way to keep the POA’s tushes safe and their ankles strong… get off of your fancy motorcycles and start walking a beat for a change. I mean, really, what can a motorcycle do that can’t be done either by car or bicycle?
The real issue, it seems, is not so much what McGrew and the POA gets to wear on the fashion runway, as it is their beef with the Chief.
You don’t like your boss, boys? Well, work it out like they do in every other business, or leave the force. You want new uniforms? Learn to dance “cheek to cheek” and resolve it like adults. But enough with the “Waa Waa Waa” and “We’re gonna sue you” childishness. Chief Cam Sanchez is the one who sits in front of the Council and the City Administrator and tells them that crime is down because of your efforts, defends your staffing positions, and tries to inspire the citizens of this City to believe that you have their interests at heart, before your own.
You do, don’t you?