COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio's highway patrol and the union for troopers settled a disagreement Friday over shoes for the officers, who can now choose to wear a dressier short boot or a more athletic version with laces.
The Ohio State Troopers Association and several officers had filed grievances, contending the buckle boots being required were slick and potentially insecure, creating unsafe working conditions.
Association president Larry Phillips said troopers are satisfied with the settlement, which makes the athletic style optional for everyday use. The leather buckle style still is required in certain circumstances, including for higher-ranking officers and at ceremonial occasions, classroom training and public speaking appearances.
The patrol's new leader, Col. Paul Pride, considers the shoe issue more about comfort than safety and said he thinks there are bigger problems requiring troopers' attention. But he said providing the chukka boot option is a "common-sense decision" and should help ensure troopers can refocus on their work.
"If it means that they're going to go out there and do their job better, and I'm able to equip them to do that, that's an easy decision," said Pride, who served as an assistant superintendent before being selected for the patrol's top job in late July.
The union maintains the main issue was officer safety. Some troopers had slipped or lost a shoe while chasing after someone, Phillips said. Other concerns were raised about the materials and structure of the dressy shoe.
Pride said the patrol wants its employees to have the best possible equipment, including their weapons, vehicles and footwear.
"I want you to go chase bad guys, so why wouldn't I give you the best shoe out there?" he said.
Troopers who don't have the optional athletic version will be able to request them. The difference in cost between the two types of boots is only a few cents, Pride said.