The police badge is a symbol of authority, respect, integrity, and trust. Learn more about the police badge origins and meaning.

Origin of the Police Badge

The first idea of a badge was created long before modern law enforcement. The badge eventually became an identifier of authority within public servants, thus leading the way for police officers to distinguish their rank.

There are several theories on how the Police Badge evolved to what it is today. However, some historians speculate the first police badge came from London, England around 1845.

The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC was created in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln and patterned after the New York City Police Department. Additionally, the NYPD had been patterned after the City of London Police Department.

How The Police Badge Became An Icon

The Police Badge has become the most recognizable icon of law enforcement officers. It is a tool to identify the officer and from which department they come. The badge of the Metropolitan Police Department has a unique shape, like no other.

An officer of law enforcement takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to faithfully enforce the laws of the United States and to enforce its laws as well as those of the town, city, state or federal agency where they are employed. He or she also swears to never tarnish the badge.

Although a law enforcement badge may seem like only a simple portrayal of position and authority, it represents the willingness to sacrifice’s one safety to assist others. It is a symbol and a promise to uphold the best interests of their community within their position.

What The Police Badge Means Today

A law enforcement badge is more than a sign of rank, position, location, job or duty.  A well cared for and properly presented badge is a sign of pride, honor, respect and a symbol of safety.  It should always instill a feeling of comfort to civilians in times of stress and the bearer should always understand the significance their insignia may have on others. A proudly displayed badge is a sign of trust and sacrifice and it can motivate both those that see it worn and those who wear it to do good.

Written by Don Blake, MPDC Retired


* See article by Nick Breul on the history of the Police Uniform

The Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Memorial and Museum works to preserve MPD history and make it available to the public. Additionally, If you’d like to ensure such history continues to be preserved, please donate today.

DC Police Badge