The Star and Shield


September 26, 2003, 03:27 PM
Just saw a cop show and got thinking....Anyone know the history of how a star got to be the emblem of a LEO ? How did it evolve into a shield ????

Inquiring minds want to know because a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Besides, I'm bored right now.

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September 26, 2003, 05:01 PM
The first police were British... They wore badges that were (I believe, though I could be wrong) images of the small shields or "bucklers" that most foot soldiers (back in the day) wore strapped across their backs.

I'm not quite sure where the stars came from, though they do seem awfully Masonic...

September 29, 2003, 02:01 PM
I would have thought some historian would have chimed in here.

I suppose the British link would be a possibility. As far as the Masonic link, I never thought of that. I'll ask around at my next Lodge meeting !:)

4v50 Gary
September 29, 2003, 07:53 PM
There are quite a number of books on badges (but I have none). I would not say that the "shield" evolved into the star. Some agencies began with one and switched to the other. It depends on the whim of the Chief.

One thing though, Sheriffs tend to use stars. Don't know why though. Western tradition? Some shields had stars in the center. Another noteworthy thing is how the 5 point star seems to predominate in the midwest, then another point is added as you go further west and finally when you get to the Western States, you have seven point stars. However, some East Coast agencies have adopted those too.

Most Feds have always had shields. I think with the US Marshal it was the decision of the Marshal (who was assigned to the area) to issue the badge. Best thing to do is either attend a badge collector show and when you visit cities, see if there's a police museum.

I use to & have some stars of different agencies, but my favorite is a City Refuse Collector shield. It's long obsolete but in the old times, the licensee got to pick up trash, non-human of course; and it does have an advantage in that it doesn't fight back.;)

September 29, 2003, 08:09 PM
"We don't need no steenkin' badges!"

Johnny Guest
September 29, 2003, 08:37 PM
- - - And, of course, it would be unthinkable that a badge in Texas not include the Lone Star. Even the agencies with the six- and seven-point star badges include the small, enamelled, State Seal in the center, at least all I've examined. I would tend to believe the Lone Star of Texas, first flown in October 1835, was taken from the United States flag, which had been around for under 60 years.

The intertwined association of Freemasonry, the five pointed star, and the symbols of the USA and Texas, has long been noted, probably for good reason. Someone will probably comment on the satanic pentagram at about this point, which relationship to THE STAR is easy to deny but impossible to disprove.

Many agencies use an oval badge - - Which, I suppose is the shape of many historic shields, huh?

Gary, I have indeed seen many US Marshal badges in a shield shape, but I note that the current USM Service badge uses the five point star-in-circle shape - - Sort of a BIGGER, new-and-"improved," version of the Texas Ranger badge.

One fairly popular police badge is an adaptation of the fire fighter Maltese Cross, with an eagle atop it, yielding a rather oval shape. Which leads to the question: Why do fire departments use the Maltese Cross?


4v50 Gary
September 29, 2003, 09:04 PM
I've seen several early Marshal badges and there's quite a few variations of the shield. Was told by one Marshal that whoever was the Marshal got to pick. Methinks the first Federal LE killed was a Marshal. There's also a Supreme CT case involving the Marshal where somebody slapped a Supreme (on board a train) and the Marshal became outraged, shouted something to the extent that "You can't do that" and pulled out his Colt blackpowder revolver and shot him. Supremes held it was a good shooting in defense of a Federal Official.

Maltese Cross or adaption of the Irish Clover? I dunno. The FD around here has a shield with an eagle (or phoenix) atop.

At one of the Civil War sites (they were asking about the NY Fire Zouaves, 5th NY), some one was asking for about the badges of firemen back in those days. If I'm not mistaken, the fire companies were private and you could subscribe for service. Hence you got a plaque that was mounted on the exterior of the insured place. If your place was burning, they'd do their best. If your place wasn't insured, they'd dallied. First time I saw those plaques was in Charleston, SC.

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