A History of Police Badges & Pins

The First Badges

During the middle ages, European nobility was known for using coats of arms, heraldry, and insignia to tell the history of their house and their family. In those times, it was customary for nobility and commoners alike to wear badges representing this personal history. Badges were not limited to a specific job or duty, and they were used to show loyalty to certain groups or houses. These badges were made of many materials including cloth, metal, and sometimes jewelry. Eventually, the servants in noble houses began to dress according to the house they worked for and their status within the house and the badges became increasingly restricted to just house servants, especially those in power. Ultimately, the badge of service was created, and many public servants adopted it as their own, making themselves instantly identifiable.

Custom pin

Police Badges Today

Naturally, as the police force became what it is today, they also adopted the badge as a form of identification. Over time, badges evolved from a simple way to identify a policeman. Pins and embroidered badges were created to symbolize not only their service but their achievements and positions as well.

What you would usually think of when it comes to police badges is the seven-pointed star. This is the main identifying badge, and it holds a large amount of significance. Police officers see the badge as a physical reminder of the promise they’ve made to themselves and their community. It represents the trust they’ve been given to make the right decisions to protect those they are sworn to. The pinning ceremony is a deeply meaningful event and rewards police for their incredible efforts during the police academy.

Police Merits

If you look at a policeman’s outfit, chances are you’ll find a variety of pins, patches, and other emblems. These can symbolize a variety of things. Pins are often awarded when police officers go above and beyond the call of duty to protect civilians. There is a wide array of these awards. For example, the Medal of Valor.

Awards vary from one police department to the other. This medal, however, tends to be a staple amongst most of them. The Medal of Valor is a highly esteemed award given to officers who display heroism when placed in a dangerous situation. To be considered for this police pin, an officer must show extreme and unusual bravery when performing their duty. The Medal of Honor is similar to this award, although it carries a higher level of honor and it’s more rarely given out. 

Commendations are common among the police force, although the reasons they are awarded vary a bit. Usually, a Commendation is awarded to an officer who makes a significant contribution to the mission of the department beyond the call of duty. The Life-Saving Award is another award that rewards officers who put their own life at risk to prevent the death of another person. 

The Purple Heart dates back to 1782 when General George Washington designated it as a military badge of military merit. In modern times, law enforcement has also adopted the award. It is known to be awarded when an officer is wounded or killed while on the job, although the exact criteria are different in different police departments, the concept remains the same. These are just some of the awards available to officers. There are many more, each having their own weight and significance.