MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The men and women who work to keep Memphis City Schools safe are wearing new uniforms, but from a distance, the security guards' updated duds make it hard to tell them apart from Memphis police officers.
MPD Director Larry Godwin says he's concerned the similar clothing might cause problems.
"I mean, we had confusion last year when they were wearing gray shirts and black pants," he said. "Can you imagine if they look identical to us?"
In a letter Godwin sent to MCS Superintendent Kriner Cash this week, he wrote, "I cannot grasp the reason for this uniform change."
Godwin also cites a state law that prohibits a security guard from wearing a badge that "indicates or tends to indicate that such person is a sworn peace officer."
But district officials say the new uniforms are more professional-looking and easier to keep clean.
And although the badges are virtually identical to those worn by Memphis police officers, the word "security" is printed on them.
"In no way would we ever try to mimic or look like we're something we're not," said MCS Security Chief Gerald Darling.
But Director Godwin believes it's the overall impression that matters - not the details of the uniform.
"They're not police officers. They are security," he said. "And that's a big concern...that you want to look like a police officer."
Officials with MCS and MPD plan to discuss this issue and other concerns at an upcoming meeting.