Union representatives say the shorts ban for officers assigned to the Capitol is based on appearances because shorts-clad officers dont look good carrying large automatic rifles.
The tourist consensus is clear: Let them wear shorts.
In order to keep up appearances, Capitol Police officers who work around the Capitol must wear long pants year-round. But looks didn’t matter to the throngs of tourists at the Capitol on Tuesday morning, who expressed disbelief at the dress code.
While walking along the East Front with his wife and daughters, James Farley said he didn’t think wearing shorts was unprofessional in the least.
“It’s been that way for years,” the Hayward, Calif., resident said.
His wife, Ellen, shook her head as she piped up.
“That’s uncalled for,” she said. “What if they suffer from heat stroke? It’s like saying that a woman can’t wear a dress.”
Just a few yards away, Laurie Mallory of Chico, Calif., sat with her husband, Eric, watching as others posed for pictures and walked with their tour groups.
The morning temperatures were a blessing after last weekend brought highs in the 90s. They had been at the Capitol then, with the humidity clinging to their skin.
“I always feel bad for the people I see in suits when it’s that hot outside,” Mallory said. “Now the police have to deal with that, too?”
The ban affects only officers assigned to the Capitol. Those who are on patrol, riding bicycles or guarding the office buildings are still allowed to wear shorts. Amanda Dumas of Greensboro, N.C., thinks distinguishing between the officers is ridiculous.
“What?!” she exclaimed. “It’s summer. They’re serving their purpose to protect the Capitol, the Congressmen, the visitors. People are worried, but as long as they’re doing their job, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Inside of the Capitol Visitor Center, Sally Purinton sat on a bench, waiting for her tour to start. She figured as long as they were still in uniform, officers should be allowed to wear what they want.
“They need to dress appropriately for the weather, and shorts are absolutely appropriate,” the Denver resident said.
Richard Haas of Yakima, Wash., stood outside of the CVC Exhibition Hall, waiting for his students to finish checking out the displays. To him, the most important thing is that the officers are comfortable.
“Their minds would be a bit sharper if they’re not worrying about the heat,” he said. “It’s not like they’re wearing Hawaiian board shorts.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.