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Some Bobbies Drop Traditional Headgear

Made for an age when the constable walked his beat and never got into a car, the British bobby’s tall, pointed helmet is being doffed for good in one major English city.

But Manchester’s decision to discard a symbol of law and order dating to Victorian times is shocking police chiefs across England.

“The helmet provides stature, height, authority and protection,” said Brian Mackenzie, president of the Police Superintendents Association, which urged police forces across England and Wales not to follow Manchester’s lead.

Impractical, scoffed Manchester’s chief constable, David Wilmot. Officers want hats that will fit inside a police car and that won’t fall off during a foot chase.

The switch became official Tuesday when the Greater Manchester police force became the first in England and Wales to replace the conical helmets, introduced in 1870, with flat-topped, American-style police caps already worn in Scotland and Northern Ireland.