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Inquiry Leaves NYPD Uniform Cataloger Blue

A New York Police Department inquiry into a complaint that officers' home addresses were improperly disclosed for a direct mail solicitation will not deter a police union from hearing other offers or a catalog supplier from continuing solicitations.

Last month, mail-order supplier Gall's Inc., Lexington, KY, mailed uniform and equipment catalogs to 27,000 officers in the Patrolman's Benevolent Association (PBA). The mailing list was provided by the PBA, but the union's private mailer handled fulfillment of the catalogs to keep officers' home addresses confidential.

The NYPD inquiry was prompted by the Uniform Dealers Association's complaint that ordering uniforms by mail violated a 50-year-old practice requiring officers to present photo identification to receive uniforms and increased the risk of officers being impersonated. The uniform dealers association, which consists of 12 of the 20 authorized suppliers in the city, also said that local dealers must undergo background checks before receiving licenses.

“We set the top standard in the industry with respect to [requiring] identification,'' said Gall's president Thomas Vozzo. “In fact, many officers don't like the extra paperwork they have to go through, but we will stick with our procedure to limit sales to authorized individuals.''

Gall's received the NYPD's equipment supply division's permission to send the catalogs and asks officers to fax a copy of their ID to receive orders.

PBA spokesman Joseph Mancini said that the Gall's arrangement was a “one-shot deal'' and that the controversy won't curtail solicitations to its membership.

“We're not going to start offering our mailing list for condos. We're just talking about uniforms and equipment,'' Mancini said. “Other authorized companies are welcome to speak to the PBA. The PBA didn't do this to favor any group over another.''

Mancini said the PBA was not paid for providing the list and that Gall's paid all expenses associated with the catalog mailing. The PBA sends periodic mass mailings of newsletters and a magazine to its members. And it contracts out mailings consisting of more than a piece of paper an unnamed private mailer.

Gall's has been selling uniforms and equipment to law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services employees for 30 years. The uniforms are generic and are made official by the application of emblems and embroidery at the direction of clients.

This market is worth $4 billion a year, and, according to Vozzo, Gall's is the biggest player in a fragmented industry. It markets its products through a 350-page catalog sent out four to eight times a year and started taking orders on its Web site (www.gallsinc.com) three weeks ago.

The NYPD was targeted with a 60-page law enforcement catalog, and Vozzo said more specific solicitations are planned for other regions.

“New York is the one to start,'' he said.

Although some lists are provided to Gall's by a union or department, most are acquired by renting other response lists from a broker. Gall's broker is Direct Media, Greenwich, CT, and Vozzo said he gets the best results from police and fire trade magazines. Gall's sends its catalogs directly to individuals and also uses the Dun & Bradstreet business directory to locate police, fire and ambulance stations.

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