Updated Uniform and Grooming Standards

On June 30, 2021, Chief Scott approved the updated uniform and grooming standards policy for U.S. Border Patrol agents. It’s unclear if it has been distributed to all agents sector-wide, but it is indeed in effect right now.

Overall, this is a great update to the policy — here are some of the more notable changes:

As announced last month and the subject of a recent grievance, the new policy allows agents to wear the hard plate carrier (HPC) over just the performance patrol shirt (PPS).

Agents may wear a duty belt back brace, which was the subject of a wear test a few years ago. This type of device is usually attached to the back of a duty belt and allows for additional support, providing relief for agents who have back pain.

Duty belt harness systems (DBHS), also known as suspenders, may now be worn, which should provide relief for agents with back pain and hopefully prevent future back pain for others. A DBHS must be black or a color similar to our uniform, and it cannot be worn while participating in Honor Guard, recruiting, public affairs, oral hiring boards, or during airport operations.

Sleeves are now officially allowed to be rolled up while not “in the public eye.” Although this was not an issue for most locations, some managers are picky about this, so now the policy allows it “to facilitate airflow and ventilation.”

The previous policy said that boots needed to have a “plain toe with no stitching or decorative design.” Now, the boots worn with the RDU can have “a rubber toe cap with limited stitching or decorative design.” Why is this a thing? Well, some managers used the previous language to prevent agents from wearing tactical-style boots that had stitching on them to hold the toe cap on the shoe. Even though these boots tend to be more comfortable than what we usually wear, some managers cared more about stitching than allowing agents to wear boots that let them work harder for longer periods of time. The policy now allows tactical-style boots with stitching to be worn.

Female agents can have permanent makeup, as long as it is professional and conservative.

Section 2 of the policy includes some of the other relatively minor changes.