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Phoenix PD uniform change could cost taxpayers millions

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A snap decision by Phoenix's top cop could cost taxpayers more than $2 million.

For 15 years a pair of black cargo pants and a polo with an embroidered badge were standard issue at Phoenix Police Department. But on Oct. 1, 2012 the popular uniform was banned.

"This came at a moment's notice. We had guys that week prior purchase new uniforms," said Ofc. Will Buividas, Treasurer of Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

The uniform is not as flashy as traditional police wear. But that doesn't make it cheap. Just the shirt and pants cost $200. An expense that cuts deep into an officer's $1,150 a year clothing allowance.

Chief Garcia does have the authority to say what uniforms officers can and cannot wear. However on Tuesday the Phoenix Employment Relations Board ruled that officers should be compensated for the switch. A suit filed by the PLEA could be costly.

"I think it was a bad decision on Chief Garcia's part. I think it's going to end up costing the taxpayers a million or two million dollars," said Ofc. Buividas.

Ofc. Buividas said something as simple as an extended wear out period could have been a compromise.

"They could have said OK we're going to change the uniform. We're going to go back to the old uniform. But you're going to have a year to wear out the class D uniform, and then the effect on the officer's compensation would have been a lot less. If we just could have met and talked and negotiated on the front end we wouldn't have had this problem," said Ofc. Buividas.

CBS 5 reached out to Phoenix Police Department to see what they had to say about the ruling. Officials declined to comment.

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