The tan and brown uniforms of the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office are going away. The agency under new Sheriff Terry Rowan is going green, and a color called “silver tan.”

Rowan and Lt. Glen Diehl of the sheriff’s office sought permission Wednesday from the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners to seek bids for new uniforms. Diehl explained that over the past decade, sheriff offices have moved away from shades of brown toward green pants and silver tan shirts.

Big agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, are the drivers behind the change, he said, and uniform manufacturers have catered to those agencies. The LACSD has more uniformed officers than all of Oregon, he said. According to the 2010 Los Angeles County Annual Report, the agency has more than 18,000 officers.

Trying to find duty shirts and pants that match is getting tough, Diehl said, and getting more expensive because suppliers are not stocking the county’s colors.

New uniforms also would send the message the sheriff’s office is one team, Rowan said. About 50 people in the sheriff’s office don uniforms, including the jail staff. Per the labor agreement between the county and the sheriff’s unionized employees, each member gets three pairs of pants, two long- and two short-sleeved shirts and a coat.

“We’re one of the last counties to see the switch,” Rowan said. “We held out and held out and held out.”

Commissioners gave their OK to seeking bids. Rowan after the meeting said his office soon will put out the request and he would like to phase in the new uniforms by summer.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.

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