Those who visit or live in Branson might start to notice Branson Police Department officers looking a little different.
It could be considered a slight change, but the adjustment hopes to make a big difference.
Officers can now wear cowboy hats and have facial hair year-round.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that the cowboy hat goes very well with Branson and old-time Branson,” said Chief Eric Schmitt. “It just kind of fits in with the image we want to portray here. When you need help, I don’t know that you really care what the officer looks like, as long as he can help you and take care of business.”
Schmitt explained the goal is to boost officer morale.
He said the majority of officers are in favor of the changes and he didn’t know why it couldn’t be an option.
“I think it looks great,” said Jesse Wilcox, who is an officer. “It’s comfortable.”
On top of the appearance factor, the hat could help when trying to perform various job duties.
“Quite effective keeping the sun off, keeping the rain off,” said Wilcox.
Schmitt said it could also be an effective tool in recruiting additional officers to the department since more are needed.
“I’d say down in our actual patrol strength would be about 14 officers,” said Schmitt.
The department posted the news to its Facebook page Wednesday night.
“We’ve probably received at least seven applications just from the time that post hit,” he explained.
People in Branson shared various opinions.
“I don’t see a problem with it,” said one woman who visits the area often.
Some are for the new look, while others are not.
“You should look professional,” said another woman, who said she is a fan of a more traditional officer look.
Since Jan. 2021 in Springfield, officers are now allowed to have visible tattoos.
While this wasn’t the only police change, the department did start to see noticeable jumps in people applying to be an officer.
Branson PD hopes to see the same success.