It is inevitable at this time of year that a number of internet searches for “Cop Uniform for Halloween” or “Police Costume” are ending up on my website, especially on my page related to how to assemble a CHP uniform.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) uniform is the classic, most sought-after cop uniform in existence, made popular by the TV show, “CHiPs” which was broadcast on American television from 1977 to 1983. I tell ‘ya, a LOT of people are looking for that uniform — and not all of them are gay uniform fetish guys, either. Lots of straight guys like to wear a uniform for Halloween, or dress their kids in one.
For those who thought it might be easy to find a source of a complete CHP (or other law enforcement) motor officer uniform via the web, I am sorry to disappoint you. It is not possible to buy an authentic, complete California Highway Patrol (or other) uniform. In fact, it is illegal even to sell such a uniform to someone who is not authorized by the CHP to buy one. (This is due primarily to laws that went into effect after the U.S. terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They don’t want the bad guys to have easy access to a uniform that they could use for nefarious purposes.)
However… it is possible, and legal, to put together a replica CHP uniform yourself, as long as you do not wear it anywhere within the State of California OR assume behavior while wearing a uniform that implies you are a cop. (If you ARE in California, choose a uniform from a different state.)
Impersonation is evaluated on two factors: how you look and what you do. If you try to act like a cop in public, such as by pulling someone over, frisking or handcuffing a “suspect,” interrogating someone, etc., then a real cop may think you are trying to impersonate an officer and take you in for questioning and possibly place you under arrest on criminal charges. Keep the cop-acting behavior behind closed doors, and don’t wear a uniform in the city, county, or state where cops in that uniform have jurisdiction, and be cool. You will be okay.
It is not hard to assemble and create a CHP (or other agency) uniform, but it takes some advanced planning. Here goes:
1. Get a uniform shirt (any shirt supplier can sell it) in the color “silvertan”
2. Get breeches (if you want to go with the look of a motorcycle officer). You can have “braiding” (stripes) applied from your supplier. Intapol is one source of breeches; there are others.
3. Get Dehner Patrol Boots (or a similar-looking pair. For a Halloween costume, no one will notice if you have cheap knock-off imitations.)
4. The insignia (patches) are worn on both the right and left sleeves up high near the shoulder. They are a bit harder to find, but it is possible to find them at leather fetish shops (choose your favorite) or on eBay. Sew them on.
5. You probably can not find a real CHP or other agency badge. And it’s probably not a good idea to wear one. You can find a replica badge on eBay, but try to avoid getting one that says “security officer” or something generic like that. IMHO, badges like that are cheesy and make you appear like Deputy Dawg.
6. Get a regular belt (to serve as an underbelt) and a Duty Belt (called a Sam Brown Belt), attached with keepers. Get a few doo-dads to hang onto it — see my duty belt description on my website for ideas.
7. Consider a good-looking, tough leather cop jacket to complete the look. This is my Taylor’s Leatherwear authentic motor officer jacket that I have enjoyed wearing for many years. (Notice, no insignia on the sleeves, so I can wear it over a shirt with insignia when I am out in public, so I do not have an appearance of wearing a uniform where doing so could be misinterpreted.)
8. By all means, do NOT wear a weapon (gun, baton, billy club.) Such devices are illegal for an unauthorized, unlicensed individual to wear on the street of most cities and towns in the United States, Australia, and probably many other countries.
9. Optional Damascus cop search gloves set an interesting “tone.”
10. Go hatless or if you wear a hat, choose as authentic a ballcap as you can find. A motorcycle helmet with CHP colors is good, but likely not easy to find. If you choose to wear a ballcap, avoid a generic “security” hat. Remember the “Deputy Dawg” warning above?
That’s about it. It isn’t hard, but takes planning. Go get ’em (at home, privately!) Have fun!
DISCLAIMER: All the information contained in this post is provided solely for the benefit of collectors and fans of the show “CHiPs” to assist them in constructing a “CHiPs” replica costume. In no way is it intended for use in any attempt to impersonate any law enforcement officer. Apologies to long-term visitors of this blog for repeating a post of two years ago, but this is a very frequently searched question this time of year, so I thought it was worth repeating.