Badge and Patch History
The badge of the SJPD has traditionally been a seven-point star. Some of the early badges dating back to the late 1800’s were five, six, and even a few seven-point stars. There were a few exceptions one such example is the early 1900’s detective badges that had an “eagle-top” shield style. Some of the early Chiefs and command rank badges were special designs and may have been hand made by local jewelers. The traditional SJPD Police Officer’s badge from the 1900’s to 1976 was a smooth background seven-point star that read “SAN JOSE POLICE” in black enamel and had an assigned number, 1-3 digits long in the center, and were reissued as members left the department. During the same era Sergeants and Traffic Officers wore a silver seven-point star with detailed leafing and/or scrolling and Command Officers badges were similar, but with gold finishes. Most of the early badges were made of sterling silver, and 10k gold. Some of the badges, including all of the early Auxiliary, Reserve, or also called “Special Police” badges were made from chrome, tin, and nickel, primarily due to the need to preserve certain metals for the war efforts.
The badge company “Irvine and Jenkins” made most of the early San Jose Police badges. In 1976 the department changed to a four-digit number system and at the same time changed the badge style to the current version. The badge contract was also given to “Ed Jones Badge Co.” The current style badge still kept the seven-point star but added a rank ribbon, detailed leafing and blue enamel for the text on the badges. As for rank, command staff still use a gold colored badge and Sergeants and Officers are issued a silver colored badge. Badge numbers were now permanently assigned to Officers. The first badge number started with 1000, which was assigned to then-Chief of Police, Joseph D. McNamara. The numbers were then assigned in ascending numerical order by seniority in rank, beginning with the highest ranks. Now if an Officer resigns, is promoted, or retires their badge number is retired as well.
In the Mid 1980’s the Department’s badge contract was awarded to “Sun Badge Co.” who still holds the contract. With each badge company change came a slight variation on the look of the badge. Department members are allowed to privately purchase their own badge and today you can find new Officers wearing sterling silver, chrome and gold plated badges made by Irvine and Jenkins, Ed Jones, and even Blackington Badge Co.
In 1999 the San Jose Police Department celebrated its 150th Anniversary. For this special occasion an anniversary badge and patch were designed and worn for the anniversary year. The badge and patch were designed by Jarrod J. Nunes and the badges were produced by the Sun Badge Co. This badge included the same size text content found on the current badge yet combined it with the styling of a pre-1976 smooth style badge. This meant that the badge, besides having a smooth background, would also have a larger font on the lettering and be in black enamel. In addition a top ribbon was added that displayed the years “1849-1999” along with “150 years.” The patch for the anniversary year incorporated the years “1849-1999” to the current style design. As of January 1st, 2000, this badge was no longer authorized to be worn on duty. A non-sworn version of the badge was designed as well. The nonsworn badge was an “eagle-top” shield with a miniaturized version of the sworn badge in the center. It too commemorated the Department’s sesquicentennial with the years “1849-1999” on an attached ribbon.
The seven points on the badge represent the seven core values of the Department: Integrity, Service, Courage, Innovation, Respect, Excellence, and Diversity. The San Jose Police Department badge will continue to be a recognized symbol of professionalism, dedication, and service, while it is worn by the men and women who serve and protect “America’s Safest Large City”.