Today’s Investigative Special Report – October 25, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “What Does The ‘Badge’ Signify To A Law Enforcement Officer?”

By Lawrence W. Daly
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
English: Badge number 1012, of Port Authority ...
English: Badge number 1012, of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Officer and 9/11 attack victim George Howard. source url, found here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The law enforcement officer walks through the door of a residential burglary. The victim tells the officer that someone broke out the backdoor window, reached in, and unlocked the door, entered her house, and stole her money and jewelry from her master bedroom.  The entire time she is talking to the officer she is fixated on the badge on the left side of the chest area of his uniform. Her thoughts are about what has just happened to her, but she can’t help but respect the officer’s badge.
The badge signifies so much to the officer and citizens in the community in which he works. Nothing speaks as loud as the badge when a citizen visually connects with the officer. The badge has indirect and direct power and can demand respect from anyone who sees it.
When the Goodwill Games were in Seattle, Washington in 1990 a lady pulled up to the Sea-Tac National Airport Terminal to pick-up her 11 year-old daughter and 9 year-old son who had arrived without an adult, but assistance with the airline they had flown with. The need to park her car and find her children was of the utmost concern to this woman. After she exited her vehicle a man in a blue workmen’s uniform asked her to move her vehicle. She told him why she could not move the car and began walking towards the terminal doors. He grabbed her and took her to the ground, breaking her right arm in the process. She was arrested by the officer and booked into jail for Obstructing A Law Enforcement Officer.
During the interview by a private investigator with the Port of Seattle law enforcement officer who had arrested his client, the officer was asked questions about his uniform on the day he arrested his client. The officer admitted that the vest he was wearing covered his badge and shoulder patches. Further, the vest he wore on that day was not departmental provided to patrol officers or authorized to wear. In concluding the interview the officer had to admit that there was no way the woman could have known he was a police officer.
The badge is a source of any citizen identifying the individual as a law enforcement officer. Officers of a law enforcement agency are the only individuals who can wear a badge on their body. This signifies to a citizen that the badge provides many reasons why they should listen and do what the officer lawfully requests.
Impersonation of law enforcement officers is a problem the community has to deal with. There have been numerous cases where an individual obtains police emergency lights, attaches the lights to his vehicle, and then becomes a predator. The perpetrator than begins pulling over citizens hunting for a woman he will eventually rape. These impersonators are eventually identified, apprehended, prosecuted, and imprisoned. Recently in Florida an individual was apprehended for impersonating a law enforcement officer. He made the mistake of flashing a badge to a ‘real’ law enforcement officer.
These types of situations are not uncommon and citizens should be careful when traveling in county and state roads which are not busy during the evening and late hours of the day. Predators know that the likelihood of being caught by another law enforcement officer is minimized due to the lack of patrol activity in these areas. If a citizen believes the vehicle attempting to pull them over is not a police officer, they can dial 9-1-1 and request verification that the vehicle trying to pull her over is a ‘real’ police officer. It is better to be safe than injured, raped, or murdered.
The badge represents a ‘symbolic’ visual protector of the community. When a citizen sees the badge the
Puerto Rico Police Department officer badge.
Puerto Rico Police Department officer badge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
y may immediately stop their criminal behavior, or be happy to see that an officer has arrived at their location to assist them. When an officer wears a badge on his chest, or around his neck, or on his belt, these ‘symbolic’ locations should signify that the man wearing the badge is a law enforcement officer. Most people watch television shows, go to the movies, and should understand that these three locations of where the badge is placed is where law enforcement officer wears his badge.
When an officer receives a new rank the badge he was previously wearing will change e.g. patrol officer becomes a sergeant, a patrol officer becomes a detective, and etc. Additionally, the officer will apply stripes on their uniform to identify their rank. This tells the citizen what is the rank of the officer and if he can assist him with the problem the officers he is dealing with.
There are many law enforcement agencies who wear uniform hats which have badges on them. These uniform hats have transitioned into officers wearing baseball hats, as they are light in weight and can be worn in most enforcement situations. Uniform hats are traditional as seen in New York by the patrolling officers, although traditionally the hat is cumbersome and of little value when dealing with the public.  The hat may be utilized for identification purposes, but get in the way when trying to apprehend a perpetrator.
There are other reasons the badge is utilized as a manner to identify who they are to the citizens in their community. The badge provides a sense of security to others that the officer knows the laws of the city, county, state, and federal. Further, the Constitutional rights of the individual will be abided by the officer, no matter the race, religion, or gender.
The law enforcement officer who wears a badge needs to present to the citizens in his community that there is honor and integrity behind the badge; that it means more than just a piece of metal. The officer knows that people look to him for assistance when they are in need for protection, resolve a criminal situation, apprehend a perpetrator, and bring a volatile situation to where it once was; 
English: A badge of a police dog within the Ne...
English: A badge of a police dog within the New York Police Department (K 9 unit), dog 46 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many times when an officer testifies in court the attorney’s during direct and cross examination may question him about, “Did you identify yourself, and how?” The answer should be, “I had my badge and gun out, and yelled police”“; I was in full uniform and my badge was displayed on the left side of the chest area of my uniform.” These answers may change the opinion of the judge or jury who up to the time the officer testified they were of the opinion that the filing of criminal charges was inappropriate and the officer acted with incompetence. It is important the judge and jury learn from the arresting officer specifically what his uniform was and how he presented himself to everyone at the crime scene.
The meaning behind the badge has a multitude of reasons for its need when affecting the responsibilities of the job. Further, it provides citizens of the officers community specifically who he is and the authority he has to affect the laws of his city, county, state, and federal. The badge when presented positively may make the difference in any given situation where the officer needs to take action in identifying, apprehending, prosecuting, and imprisoning perpetrators who violate those laws he is to enforce, protect, and serve.  The symbolism of the badge is significant in that it brings peace to those who need assistance and appreciate the value of those who wear it. 

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