Police officers in the Town of Louisa have a new look in uniforms and undergarments. Already, the wrong underwear choice has caused one the force’s five officers to be suspended without pay.
Why is new police chief John Cetrulo so adamant about underwear?
“Because it’s the military code,” says Cetrulo, who’s hoping to achieve a more professional look for his force.
On June 3, his first day at work, Cetrulo laid out the new regulations to officers who’d gotten used to wearing different colored uniforms and any undershirts they pleased. Cetrulo specified dark blue shirts and pants only, black or white crewneck undershirts only, and no medallions.
A few days later, Officer Robert Rigsby Jr. ran afoul of the new dress code when he came into work wearing a V-neck, gold chains, and a gray shirt. Rigsby was suspended without pay.
So what’s wrong with V-necks? “You wouldn’t believe the complaints we got from people about officers with chest hair showing,” explains Cetrulo. “We don’t want to be like the Village People.”
He says Rigsby claimed his medallion was a religious medal. Even so, Cetrulo wants to keep chains inside their shirts, for safety and to maintain a professional appearance.
As for earrings or nose rings, forget it– although Cetrulo will make an exception should the force obtain a female officer, which it doesn’t have now. She would be allowed to wear post earrings, but not hoops.
And would a woman be required to wear a crewneck undershirt, too? “Most female officers wear them,” says Cetrulo. “If you’re wearing a bulletproof vest, you want to have something next to the skin to avoid irritation and for sanitary reasons.”
Since taking over as chief, Cetrulo, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, has been cleaning house at the Mayberry-like police station. When The Hook called, Cetrulo was painting his office because its previous occupant was a smoker. Cetrulo intends to prohibit smoking in his government building, though he’s a smoker himself.
He also notes, “We’re putting a picnic table outside.”
Facial hair comes under Cetrulo’s scrutiny, too. Beards are forbidden. One-inch goatees and mustaches are allowed– but no handlebar mustaches.
Officers must be in uniform both in court and when conducting investigations. And now, Lousia police must write reports for all incidents and call in when they stop a vehicle, all standard-sounding stuff that Louisa police haven’t been doing on a regular basis. Another thing: the department didn’t even have evidence bags. “They were putting evidence in garbage bags,” Cetrulo laments.
So how are the officers reacting to Cetrulo’s tighter ship?
“They’re loving it,” he says. “They were upset things were out of control. We’re reestablishing respect in the community.” The Hook was unable to reach Officer Rigsby.
Cetrulo worked for four years with the Charlottesville Police Department and seven with Albemarle County police. As for the publicity over the undershirts, Cetrulo says, “Albemarle Chief John Miller says I’m his new best friend because I’m taking heat in the press.”
As stringent as the undershirt regulations are, Louisa officers can wear whatever type of underpants they like: boxers, briefs, or even thongs. “I don’t care,” says Cetrulo, and he guarantees he won’t be checking.