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Shining up the shield of honor: Georgetown PD shines up collection of new, custom badges

The Sun Times, Georgetown

Georgetown PD''s New Badges Georgetown, MA - You might have noticed the gleam of silver on an officer''s chest. Or maybe it''s the gleam of pride in his eye. Either way, you can''t miss Georgetown Police Department''s brand new, one-of-a-kind badges.

Chief James Mulligan said he had hoped to acquire custom badges from the beginning of his appointment as the town''s top officer. "When I first came to Georgetown, we were using the traditional Massachusetts badge, a sunburt badge, "Mulligan said. "I thought it would be nice if the department had a unique badge that specifically identified our officers as Georgetown."

Most municipal police departments use the sun-burst-style badge. Mulligan''s father wore that style of badge his entire career as a Lowell police officer.

"But I like to think of myself as progressive, and take things in a new direction, "Mulligan said. Initial research into new badges proved one thing; chances are, they would be too expensive. When Mulligan and Lt. David Thomson were at the Massachusetts Chief of Police Conference in March, however, they came across an unusual opportunity. One of the vendors, SymbolArts of Ogden, Utah, was displaying a great product - and a desire to make their first foray into the East Coast market.

"These guys are trying to get into the Northeast, and so they were willing to give us a great price," said Mulligan.

Once contact was established, months of back and forth took place as the actual design was refined and perfected. The department decided on a shield-shaped design, and weighed the location for the various aspects of the design; whether the name of the town should appear above the rank of the officer, or vice versa, for example. Also, there was the question of the central image of the badge, something to tie the whole package together. Town Hall was selected as that image.

"We looked around for something that was unique to Georgetown. Town Hall is a kind of focal point. If you drive into town from almost any direction, it''s the first thing you see," Mulligan said.

Mulligans''s wife suggested adding the United States and Massachusetts state flags, which now appear in minute detail outside the antiqued gold image of Town Hall. One final, truly Georgetown detail was added near the end; Old Nancy. A small, raised image of the historic cannon appears on the badge as well.

The badges are heftier than most, as the department decided to go with a full-plated backing.

"Instead of being a shell, it has a full metal plate on the back of it. It is physically heavy," said Mulligan, before adding with a smile, "I felt my officers should feel the weight of their responsibilities."

Because there was no additional funding available for the badges, early on in the process Mulligan spoke with the Georgetown Police Association and asked the full-time officers if they would be willing to buy one badge - with the deal SymbolArts provided, between $60 - $70. When the officers agreed, they were able to go forward with the first press. The remainder of the badges, such as those for the reserve officers, came out of basic clothing allowance funds.

"These and future badges will come at no extra expense to the town," Mulligan said.

The badges are just the latest step in what Mulligan hopes will bring an even higher level of professionalism and pride in the town''s Police Department.

"I inherited a great group of police officers, and I want to instill a level of pride in their department, so we''re constantly doing things to make this place unique," Mulligan said. Georgetown Police Department is the people''s department."

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