A New Standard in the Making of Badges
From the first Texas Ranger badge created in the late 1800’s, badges have dramatically evolved over time in three things: purpose, design and quality.
The original Texas Ranger badges were used as a means of identifying Rangers in the midst of feuds and disputes while riding the ranges of Texas. Today, a badge is a symbol of authority for the men and women who serve in the public safety industry. It is the focal point of the law enforcement uniform and is worn proudly as a symbol of courage, honor, and service.
The first badge designs were literally made out of Mexican coins and were very simplistic. Jewelers, gunsmiths or metal workers likely made these simple badges. As the concept of badges took hold, different shapes evolved and included simple engravings to identify an agency or department.
With the advancement of technology, badge designs have now become much more intricate, detailed, three dimensional and full of color. The development of computer graphics has allowed, if not promoted, more detail. Departments can see exactly what they are getting before the badge is manufactured. This one element has definitely influenced the advancement of badge design. Another reason seems to be the desire for commanding officers to leave a legacy with their respective departments. With the tools available now they are able to put their personal creative touch on a badge design that serves as a symbol of their leadership and service.
These personal touches make the badge more memorable and include renditions such as historical buildings, landmarks, or landscapes that are soldered on a badge to give it character. In addition, the traditional state seal is being used less and less as the standard. Custom center seals full of color and detail are being used to depict images, people, places, events or things that represent the community. The badge really has become a symbol that ties law enforcement individuals to the community in which they serve.
Even without creating a new badge design, today’s technology allows departments to keep true to the traditional look of their badge but dramatically improve the quality.
As the badge making industry evolves, more care is going into the making of each badge to ensure that quality stands out. Badge construction is much more durable today with thicker metal and stronger attachments. Layering of panels/banners is typical to give dimension to badges and allow for the easy replacement in the event of a rank change. Personalization has become commonplace. Individual officer names and ranks are now engraved on each badge to promote ownership and identity. Plating of badges, is a newer development, allowing more finish options as well as more flexibility in creating a two-tone finish. Polishing both the front and back of the badge has really increased the badge shine and brilliance. In order to polish the back, a process was developed to create a solid back rather than a hollow back so the shine is as bright on the front as it is on the back. All these elements come together to produce a very quality-looking badge that is like night and day if compared to the first Texas Ranger badge made over a hundred years ago.
As we get smarter things get better. The badge evolution is no different. The last five years is evidence that the standard in badge making has raised to a new level in terms of purpose, design and quality.