The Fairland Police Department has adopted new professional uniforms including a custom patch emblazoned with owl pride.

FAIRLAND – The Fairland Police Department has a new look. Gone are the polo shirts and slacks, now replaced with professional uniforms and custom designed department patches.

Chief of Police Aaron Richardson said it was time for a more professional, noticeable and sharper appearance for his department’s officers.

“Up until recently, we didn’t have any money for uniforms. Fairland, like most small towns, struggles to have enough money and so we had a very casual polo shirt and basic uniform. It served our purpose, but since we’ve had some fundraisers we’ve been able to collect a little money off of our police equipment and training fund,” Richardson said. “We decided to go to a more professional, crisper looking, more modern looking police uniform.”

The uniforms help identify the officers as well as create a keener image for the officers.

“First impressions, you cannot change,” Richardson said. “If you have an officer that gets out of the car and he looks professional, and he’s dressed in a professional uniform that’s crisp and clean, it portrays a better image for the department and for the town. The officers love them.”

A new embroidered department patch was designed and created by Richardson and Jennifer Andrews owner and operator of J Lynne Design. The Fairland owned and operated business offers screen printing, embroidery, signs, and banners and many other custom projects for clubs, businesses, and individuals.

“It had been years since the town actually had a patch. I tried to research what they used to have, and nobody knew,” Richardson said. “We have the Fairland Owl and school colors on our patrol cars, let’s continue with that. I wanted something with local flavor, state flavor and federal flavor, and so that’s what we did.”

“Aaron contacted me a while back and had a concept of what he wanted it to look like,” Andrews said. “I took that and made the design. For this particular patch, because it was very intricate and had so many elements to it, it took several dedicated hours to complete. The design was digitized and then embroidered in-house.”

Andrews and Richardson sat down together and created the new design that incorporates a fierce owl with outstretched wings, the mascot of the Fairland School District, the Oklahoma State Seal and the United States Flag.

“She was able to develop and design it and make it all in-house, local shop,” Richardson said. “ She still has a few uniforms that she’s finishing up and putting patches on our winter coats now. I think Jennifer did a wonderful job.”

“It’s really exciting to be a part of it, at first I was incredibly nervous and very hesitant, but seeing it come to fruition has been really awesome, and really rewarding and I’m glad that Aaron involved me in the patches,” Andrews said. “I’m really happy with how they turned out.”

“We’ve come a long way from blue jeans, a t-shirt and a badge. When a cop gets out of his car and stops somebody, they’ll know immediately it’s one of our officers,” Fairland Mayor Charles Mathis said. “The public has picked up on this and made remarks on how courteous and how sharp our policemen look.”

“Image has always been important to me. If you portray a good image it gives you a better light to the public, a little more professional, crisper, cleaner image and that’s important to me. I think it’s important to the town, and I know it’s important to the citizens of the town,” Richardson said. “Not all of our interactions with the public are going to be pleasant, but they’re going to be professional, and that’s what we’re striving for.”

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.