Many said the bright, colorful patch put police officers' safety at risk while some said it was confusing to read. But others bemoan the fact that the shield-shaped, yellow and light blue patch, a unique Mesa icon, is changing after 30 years.
The new patch will be navy blue and silver, and has already begun showing up on the sleeves of Mesa police officers.
"There's a lot of people that expressed some sentimental value with the previous patch," said Mesa Police Association president Fabian Cota. "It is a very unique patch, but it's not tactical. It sticks out in the dark."
Cota said many officers expressed concerns that criminals could easily identify and target them as police.
For this reason and others, Mesa's uniform committee has decided to change its patch and its look. Officers will soon begin wearing brushed silver - instead of brass - name tags and sergeants' patches will be outlined in silver, instead of gold. Officers have until March 2009 to change over to the new patches.
"When you see the uniform, it's going to be a dramatic change," said detective Chris Arvayo, a Mesa police spokesman.
Arvayo said the city isn't spending any more money than is usually spent on uniforms for the new look. And Cota said the union he oversees is going to take a vote to see if the union should provide its members with four patches for free.
Mesa's other union - the Fraternal Order of Police - has already bought more than 1,000 patches to sell to officers and ran out in the first week, said president Bryan Soller.
"You can tell people really liked them if they switched over that fast," he said.
Soller said he's ordering thousands more and selling them for $1 for his union's members and $2 for nonmembers.
Officials said sworn staff voted on a group of patches months ago and the department notified officers of the winning patch.
The patch that residents have seen for years had been designed by a former police officer and was based upon a 1960 city logo. Prior to 1978, officers wore light blue uniforms and a white and orange patch with green trees and a black mountain.
Opponents of the yellow and blue patch complain that it looks like it says "City of Police," Arvayo said.
"That was always being questioned," he said. "That's why the wording is different on this one."
Other officers feel the former patch stood out too much, while some believe that it is important to stand out.
"Maybe more subdued colors contribute to officer safety," Arvayo said, "however, there are some other things on a uniform that stand out ... they have a badge on. They have equipment that is very identifiable."
For the next year, the public can expect to see officers wearing either the new patch or the traditional patch, depending on how quickly officers change. Officials said that in the near future, the department's badge style also could change.