OLYMPIA, Wash. – It's a look that lead-foot drivers know all too well: the crisp black bow tie and blue "Smokey Bear" hat of a Washington State Patrol trooper.
And according to a national trade group, the outfits are the best-looking state police uniforms in the country.
The patrol, which has been wearing the peaked hats and distinctive bow ties for about 70 years, recently was named America's "Best-Dressed State Law Enforcement Agency" by the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors.
The agency has taken runner-up honors before, but this is the first year the attire has been recognized as tops in the country, said Capt. Bill Hilton.
Judges were impressed by the Washington troopers' formal uniform, which includes the black bow tie on a long-sleeved blue shirt, with darker blue pocket flaps, epaulets and cuffs.
Matching blue pants sport a dark blue stripe down the side, and the peaked, flat-brimmed dark blue felt cap tops it all off.
There are several variations of a Washington trooper's uniform, depending on duty, and many don't wear the formal bow tie in day-to-day service.
But the full complement of clothes can project a certain bearing, Hilton said.
"You check to see that things are straight before you head out the door, and the brass is shined up," he said. "Sometimes, my wife will comment that it's taking me a bit of time to get ready."