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Troopers wear hats for practicality, tradition

I saw an Oregon State Police trooper giving a driver a ticket on I-5. When he went back to his patrol car, he took his hat off and put it on the passenger seat as he got in. Why do troopers still wear hats when police officers and sheriff’s deputies don’t usually wear them anymore?

— Just wondering

As the tradition of wearing hats faded in America, many law enforcement agencies stopped requiring hats as a part of officers’ day-to-day uniforms.

However, Oregon State Police troopers have continued to wear hats, even when out on patrol.

Capt. Timothy Fox, OSP spokesman, said the hats have a practical purpose because they help shield troopers from sun and rain.

In addition, he said, the hats are a tradition and make those wearing them readily distinguishable as OSP troopers.

According to the OSP website history page, troopers didn’t always wear their trademark headgear, which looks a bit like a cowboy hat with a flat brim. That style of hat is called a campaign hat.

Troopers of the past wore hats that looked more like old-fashioned police hats. The campaign hat made a brief appearance in the 1940s, then made a comeback and became standard issue in 1972, according to OSP.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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