Pinning the badge: Honoring our professional traditions

There are two times a badge is presented to an officer — the first upon graduating the police academy and the second upon being promoted — and both are very exciting times


Badge, shield or star, regardless of what your agency calls it, are the symbol of authority. As I travel the country there are some traditions that have remained intact. All agencies issue a hard symbol of the individual’s authority. The badge, shield, or star.
While this is the most visible, the identification card issued remains the real authoritative symbol. The card remains in your wallet while the badge is there for the world to observe.

The law enforcement community is deep in traditions. As the world changes, some traditions are so important that they must remain unchanged. But the manner in which this symbol, the badge, is earned and awarded must never change.

Everyone must complete a basic police academy — the individual must initially prove themselves.

Pinning the Badge
Earning the right to become a law enforcement officer is based solely on that individual’s performance. No money, good old boy system, or political influence must be involved in this process.

Any help at this time will have a disastrous effect later as that unproven officer might be your backup or called upon to assist a victim. The public deserves only qualified officers and the only way this happens is by successfully completing the required academy.

There are two times a badge is presented to an officer — the first upon graduating the police academy and the second upon being promoted — and both are very exciting times.

The first time is as the recruit walks across the stage in a process that is the same or close to the same in every academy. The recruit’s name is called and that proud individual walks up and receives their certification from the academy, usually from the academy director.

Then they walk a bit further and either their chief or sheriff presents them with the badge. After all the names are called, the new recruit class stands and gets sworn in.

This is followed by the families or significant others being requested to come forward and pin the badge on the uniform of the new officers — for it is these people that will be most important in the officer’s lives.

They will be there for the up and downs, the joys and sadness and long after the uniform is put to rest. It is as much a celebration for the new officer as well as their families. I remember my mother and father pinning the badge on my freshly pressed new uniform and seeing the tears in their eyes.

The second time is when the officer is promoted. Standard practice is that the highlights of that officer’s career are read to the attending audience followed by inviting the officer to the stage to be presented with the new rank.

After the chief or sheriff hands the badge to the officer, the family or significant others are requested to join the officer on the stage. For the same reasons as before, the family or significant others pin the badge on the uniform of the newly promoted officer. This time it was my wife doing the honors.

We are a community of deep-standing traditions that are kept alive from generation to generation. It is a way of honoring those who serve.

About the author

Marty Katz is a retired sergeant with the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During his 34-year career, his assignments included field training officer, SWAT team member, undercover narcotics detective, academy instructor street crime suppression unit and supervisor of Recruitment, Criminal investigations and Patrol. Marty is a Florida Department of Law Enforcement certified instructor (Firearms, Defensive Tactics, Driving, First Responder, Ethics and Human Diversity), Expert Witness for Use of Force issues, a member of ILEETA, and past Florida Chapter Director for the International Association of Ethics Trainers In addition, Marty has trained in Japan with the Tokyo Metropolitan Riot Police and is a martial arts instructor.

Marty is owner and chief instructor of Crimewave Solutions, a training company for officer survival and common sense self defense. His first book, Past the Uniform, was published in 2008.

Contact Marty Katz

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