Saturday, July 17, 2004

They must want us to die
What could be more counter-productive and just plain stupid than a dress code for undercover cops?
Documents and memorandums issued by the Department of Homeland Security and field offices of the Federal Air Marshal Service say air marshals must "present a professional image" and "blend unnoticed into their environment." Some air marshals have argued that the two requirements are contradictory.

Federal air marshals must have neatly trimmed hair and men must be clean-shaven, the documents say. Some of the service's 21 field offices have mandated that male officers wear suits, ties and dress shoes while on duty, even in summer heat. Women are required to wear blouses and skirts or dress slacks. Jeans, athletic shoes and noncollared shirts are prohibited.


The Federal Air Marshal Service acknowledges that a dress code for its marshals does exist, but it will not give many specifics, saying that it is "security sensitive information."


Mr. Adams [a spokesman for the service ]said that the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association "is misrepresenting our dress code policy." Mr. Adams said a dress code was put in place in April 2002 after the airline industry complained that air marshals' attire was too casual. He said some marshals had worn shorts, blue jeans, sandals and T-shirts while on duty.

"In order to gain respect in a situation, you must be attired to gain respect," Mr. Adams said in an interview. He said if air marshals were allowed to be too casual in their dress, "they probably would not gain the respect of passengers if a situation were to occur."

Personally the gun and badge would get my attention and respect a lot faster than a professional demeanor and good haircut. And, if the dress code itself is a secret, can we at least find out the name of the airlines that complained about the too casual marshals so we can be sure to never fly with them again.

I think this transcends far beyond "unclear on the concept" and dives deep into the criminally stupid.

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