Wake County Sheriff Bans Officers From Wearing Sunglasses In Public

Newly-elected Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker has said officers may not wear sunglasses when dealing with the public.

Raleigh, NC – The newly-elected Wake County sheriff has prohibited all sheriff’s office personnel from wearing sunglasses – even on top of their heads - when talking to members of the public.

Wake County Sheriff’s Captain Teddy Patrick wrote a memo on behalf of Sheriff Gerald Baker on March 29 that announced the new policy to the department.

“Per Sheriff Baker’s directive: Effective immediately, while conducting official business on behalf of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, sunglasses are no longer allowed to be worn atop of the head/forehead area or worn on the face while conducting official business when engaging the public or citizens of this County. Should you have any questions, please contact your direct supervisor,” the memo read.

David Blackwelder, who is running against Sheriff Baker in the next election, posted a copy of the sunglasses memo to his campaign Facebook page with the caption “misplaced priorities.”

Blackwelder, who has been a police officer with another local department for nine years, said that the edict supported one of the sheriff’s pet peeves.

“He just doesn’t agree with people wearing their sunglasses while dealing with the public. He believes that officers should look at them directly with their eyes,” he said.

That's something that deputies could still do if they were allowed to lift their glasses up on their head when talking to people. However the sheriff's policy doesn't allow for that.

“We’re cops, we’re outside, we’re going to be wearing sunglasses,” Blackwelder said. “Your sunglasses are basically part of your uniform.”

The man who declared an early challenge to Sheriff Baker for the 2022 election said that the no sunglasses rule is just one more thing to worry about when trying to stay safe on duty.

Blue Lives Matter tried to reach Sheriff Baker for an explanation of the new policy and did not receive a response.

But an experienced member of law enforcement called the no sunglasses policy “tactically unsound.”

“There are several reasons why officers should wear sunglasses on duty,” retired Washington Metro Transit Police Captain William Malone explained. “First and foremost, there’s a tactical advantage to being able to look around and observe everything at a scene without the suspects knowing what you’re looking at. And what you’re not looking at.”

“If an officer stops a car with three suspects in it, the guy in the backseat doesn’t need to know when the officer isn’t looking at him so he can hide a gun,” Malone said.

“Also, most quality sunglasses offer protection against minor impacts and will protect officers’ eyes from dirt, sand, and debris that may blow on the side of the road during a traffic stop,” he said. “Some of the lenses will actually protect you from a pellet gun.”

Malone said that when officers are chasing a suspect and transitioning from inside to outside, or from reduced light to bright light, a lack of sunglasses may hamper their vision and put them in danger.

He also pointed out that many officers spend the bulk of their careers outside where the sun’s damaging ultra-violet rays will cause damage with long-term exposure.

Malone said there can be logic for banning tinted eyewear in certain places. For example, Metro Transit police officers were banned from wearing sunglasses inside underground Metro stations where it might limit their vision.

But he said banning sunglasses for officers performing their duties outside was short-sighted and tactically unsound.

“It’s just a stupid rule,” said the former SWAT team commander.

Sheriff Baker’s opposition for the next election has said the new policy is just another example of bad priorities.

“Of all the things happening in Wake County – shootings and crimes in the community - this is what the sheriff is worried about,” Blackwelder complained. “Of all things you can do to improve officer and citizen safety, Sheriff Baker sends out a you-shall-not-have-sunglasses-on policy memo. Really, is that where we need to go with this?”

Blackwelder said he has bumped heads with the sheriff in the past when representing a local law enforcement advocacy group. He called the memo “unsurprising.”

“I think it’s on par with his leadership style and I think it’s ridiculous,” he said.

Comments (55)
No. 1-19
LEO0301
LEO0301

Probably learned that at some FBI leadership course. Every time one of our officers went to Quantico they came back with some ridiculous suggestion they learned from the FBI masterminds.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

I think Sandy Malone was hired specifically for her ability to misconstrue headlines. Since I've been paying attention, she's batting 1.000.

You can still wear sunglasses, you just have to take them off when talking to a citizen. No one said they were prohibited from wearing glasses.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

Maybe if i suggest better headlines instead of just pointing out bad ones, something might change.

"Wake County Sheriff Bans Sunglasses While Talking To The Public."

This headline reflects what the story is actually about, and also shows some human courtesy between a cop and a citizen.

silverfox1971
silverfox1971

Who really gives a crap if they wear sunglasses? This Sheriff needs to get a freaking grip.

DaveZ
DaveZ

I wear glasses for nearsightedness( which means my vision is reduced farther away) so I need my glasses to clearly see 2-3 feet in front of my face. So I’m working patrol during daytime and have my sunglasses on...I respond to a motor vehicle crash with injuries and have to remember to remove my sunglasses and put on my regular glasses before I pull an injured person out of a burning car....I guess I’d get reprimanded a lot. 🤔

Bordercop
Bordercop

The fool probably never spent a day on the streets, wouldn't know tactical advantage it it him in the face

Retired37
Retired37

The laws allow the bad guys to tint the windows of their vehicles, and then expects to LEO to walk up to that car without being able to see what’s going on inside the vehicle.... but don’t forget to remove your sunglasses! What a pile of BS

Colombiano
Colombiano

You really have to love being a police officer to put up with all this nonsense. You can't make a mistake, your salary sucks, you have to wear a camera to show EVERYTHING you do, everytime you are doing business there is someone recording you with their phone, your car has like 5 cameras, and then you have to worry about your boss being against you!!! Thank you guys for all you do!!!

Gramercy
Gramercy

I agree....glasses YES...police need the tactical advantage the sunglasses may offer them.

Mic911
Mic911

So I wonder if the Sheriff will pay for new glasses for those who wear transition lenses?

61mouse
61mouse

If he's worried about appearances , he should try hitting the gym instead of the Twinkies

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

good policy. sunglasses are disrespectful to the public.

sheepdog121
sheepdog121

This has to be the most asinine policy I've ever heard of

Caddis
Caddis

This sheriff obviously hasn't done much police work which is not uncommon for an elected position. In addition to the officer safety issues already mentioned, now you have to tie up one of your hands holding your glasses. Hope he's out of a job come election time.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

The LEO on the left in the photo has a halo. Probably Catholic, I would have to guess.

BrianTheGuy
BrianTheGuy

WCSO needs a sheriff that has the experience to manage a department that serves a county with a population over one million. Let's stop the 1970s style of management.

LPD133
LPD133

Idiot policy put in place by a guy who thinks he is a king.

trainbuff
trainbuff

This is what happens when you put liberal minded people in these positions. I'm a retired officer and I can tell you my sunglasses never created a problem with the general public. It's all about attitude. Law enforcement officials and the liberal public have made policing undesirerable to most and as a result every department is forced to hire some cops that should not be cops and they have bad attitudes. They act like tough guys, or gals, and cannot professionally communicate, so now the rest pay. I was a trainer for nearly 20 years so I know what I'm talking about because I have seen what you get when your scraping the bottom of the barrel to fill officer positions. God help us!

THEDUKE
THEDUKE

to the general readers :

You have an element here ( Whoppersallthetime, LOW_EST IQ, ManBearPigsinablanket,Tfart) who state their own responses with an intentionally inflammatory anti LEO, anti white, pro black no matter the circumstances slant .Realize that they are intentionally trying to be antagonistic and pride themselves on "pushing buttons". Trying to have a rational dialogue with an irrational person will go nowhere and you will do nothing to convince them otherwise. They have an agenda. To somehow (in their minds) "stand up to whitey" and /or "stand up to LEO /law" and try to cause discord. They have an insecurity and are overcompensating since they cannot do so in "real life" .Know up front the juvenile maturity level and low intellect you are dealing with before you waste your time further. Ignoring them will be the best reaction.