When thinking of the word "badge," one possibly like to put the metal shield, star or similar emblem worn by officers and firefighters together. In fact, a badge is a device or accessory, often containing the insignia of an organization, which is used to describe any smaller object - such as a name tag, pin, emblem or another device - that can be displayed to show who a person is. They are also used in advertising, promotion, and for branding purposes. It is the concept from which the badge originated and from where the modern police badge evolved. Police badges date back to medieval times when knights wore a coat of arms representing their allegiances and loyalty. To the police officer, the badge represents the public trust, with which she has the right to act and to which she has the duty to remain true.
From a practical standpoint, officers wear badges as a means to identify who they are and who they work for. The law enforcement badge is an easily recognizable sign of legal authority. From an altruistic perspective, though, uniformed police officers proudly wear their badges to show their allegiance to the communities they serve and pride they have in their chosen profession.
One of the best-known badges is the typically star-shaped U.S. sheriff's badge, made famous in Westerns. In the United States, the badges used by law enforcement, fire, and security guards are usually made of metal in various colors and finishes and are worn above the left chest pocket on the uniform shirt or jacket. Detectives and other plainclothes personnel may wear them on a belt holder, or on a chain around the neck. Shapes are manifold, with municipal police departments tending to have some variation of a shield shape, and sheriff's departments usually going with a 5, 6, or 7 point star shape. In most cases, an enameled seal of the organization, city, county, or company can be found in the center of the badge.
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