Collecting police department patches is a popular hobby with certain patch collectors, especially those in law enforcement or retired from law enforcement. In fact, there are many police departments around the United States who keep their own police patch collection, often times found on a bulletin board in their roll call room. Trading police patches between officers and departments has led to large collections in some police stations.
Police patches, more so than fire department patches, often have their own unique design specific to their town or law enforcement jurisdiction. These special designs make collecting police patches desirable because the patch reflects the local character of the area and the vast number of shapes and sizes contribute to rarity and value.
For example, the police department embroidered patch for officers patrolling Zion, Illinois, used to have a Christian cross in the design reflecting the Christian background deeply embedded in the history of the town. When the cross was removed from the design due to “political correctness,” the discontinued patch immediately became highly desired by collectors.
It was also not uncommon for police or sheriff’s departments in the southern United States to have the Confederate flag design incorporated into their patch design. While today some people may find that offensive, in some in parts of our country, the Confederate flag was displayed in public buildings and most people treated is as part of the local history, not a political statement.
In the above two examples, the Chicago Embroidery Company, founded in1890, manufactured these patches along with many other unique collectable police patches.
Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some laws have been enacted which control possession of law enforcement insignia and this has impacted civilian patch collecting. Typically, these laws forbid law enforcement agencies from giving patches to anyone other than police officers. In addition, this has lead to an increase in patch reproductions which has become a problem amongst collectors. Most serious patch collecting enthusiasts regard these reproductions as having no value and only deal with original, authentic police insignia.
Various organizations, such as the California Law Enforcement Historical Society, sponsor annual events which spotlight the historical significance of preserving accurate information about police departments for future generations. West Virginia law specifically prohibits trading patches; North Carolina law prohibits departments selling patches. Laws differ from state to state, so be sure to check local ordinances to see what’s applicable in your area.
For more information on making custom patches, visit the Chicago Embroidery Company website at http://www.c-emblem.com.