Baltimore City Police Patches
1952 Sunpaper Photo Digital Painting
Introduction of the BPD Shoulder Rocker Patch
"EVER ON THE WATCH"
All Patched up..
For years our department wore a single patch on our left arm, first a rocker panel arched up (See Patch BCPD-1). The patch was black with simple yellow (gold) fonts/thread that read "Baltimore City Police". Then we went to a more detailed blue shoulder patch with a Maryland seal more like the one worn today. (See Patch BCPD-2) The shield on the patch like the one in the center of the badge, and collar pins, blouse buttons etc. has the, "Great Seal of Maryland" a design that was brought over from England during the early days of the colony. The shield, has the Calvert and Crossland arms (quartered). The 2nd Lord Baltimore (Cecilus Calvert) choose this design with the gold and black of the "Calverts" in the upper left, and lower right quarters, and the red and white crosses of the Crossland family (the second Lord Baltimore's maternal forbearers) in the lower left, and upper right quarters.. This patch was unchanged until late 60's early 70's when the word "CITY" was dropped from the patch, to give us the patch that is worn today (Patch BPD-3). There were many rumors as to why the word "CITY" was dropped, the most common was "COST". Someone convinced a lot of people that it cost less to have patches made with fewer letters/words on them, and that with the number of patches bought by the department, it was done to save money. Another rumor was that it was done to change the appearance of the city, i.e. "CITY" is not a place for tourist, city is a place for crime. Dropping "CITY" reduces the reason for people to stay on 95 instead of stopping in for a visit. And the third was, "Baltimore City" PD and, "Baltimore County" PD both had the same initials. So to avoid confusion, and since The Baltimore City Police Department was the senior of the departments, they should be the department recognized as "The Baltimore Police Department" without a designation as to whether they are "City" or "County"... All three convincing stories BUT...
BCPD-1 - 1952/1967
BCPD-2 - 1967/1974
BPD-3 - 1974/Current
Let's learn, The True Story...
Why the patch was changed!! To understand why that happened, we need to know a little bit about the History of the City of Baltimore. Going back to the 1800's, Baltimore had the reputation of being a "bad town", at one time it was referred to as "Mob Town." During the Civil War, The Southern Sympathizers in Baltimore actually fired on Federal Troops who passed through the City, as they marched from one train station to another, on their way to battle, it was the Sixth Massachusetts, that was attacked! The power to appoint the Police Commissioner naturally resided with the Mayor. But, the City Government became so corrupted, that the appointing authority for the Police Commissioner was taken from the Mayor, and given to the Governor. I guess that was to "isolate" the appointment of the Commissioner from the corruption of the Mayor's Office! Anyhow, it was a unique position, to have a Major City Police Chief appointed, not by that City's Mayor, but by the Governor of the State! Commissioner Donald D. Pomerleau was appointed by the Gov. J Millard Tawes at the time, it was around 1966 or so, at any rate shortly after the Release of the IACP's Report on the Baltimore City Police Department, which was a scathing report, indicating an inefficient, and corrupt agency! Pomerleau had been one of the IACP's "Inspectors" who made the study, and issued the report! I guess the report is about three inches thick! Subsequent to that Report, Bernie Schmidt, who was then the Commissioner, retired sorta under fire, and eventually Pomerleau (after a couple of inter-rim Police Commissioners, including one of our own Inspectors, and later Army General George Gelston, who is buried in our very own Greenmount Cemetery, along with former BCPD Police Commissioner Beverly Ober, who was really a man before his time) was appointed to that position! Fast forward a few years, Pomerleau is still the Police Commissioner, and William Donald is now the Mayor, and the PC is still appointed by the Governor! At that time, the patches read: "Baltimore City Police!"
Baltimore Police Patch History
Until 1952 the Baltimore Police Department didn’t have a shoulder patch. Under Commissioner Beverly Ober Baltimore Police would get their first regular patch, it was a rocker patch and had a black background with both a yellow outline and yellow lettering. At the time, police wore just one patch, and it was on the shoulder of their left sleeve. The rocker patch would remain in use until 1967 when Police Commissioner Donald D. Pomerleau switched to the shield-shaped patch which with only one exception is similar to the one worn today and found in this folder. From 1967 until 1974 the word “CITY” was on our police patch. In 1974 with Donald Pomerleau still Commissioner the word “CITY” was removed. There were rumors as to why the word “CITY” came off the patch. Some said it was to save money; others said because the police department fell under state government. But the truth was the city was changing its image from a “Port/Industry Town” to a “Tourist Town.” Mayor Donald Schaffer wanted the word “CITY” removed from as many places as possible. Some say even highway and road signs went from “Baltimore City - 25 Miles ahead” to “Baltimore - 25 Miles ahead.” His efforts paid off with the success of the Inner Harbor starting in the mid to late 1970s and opening in the early 1980s. Baltimore became a worldwide tourist destination and model of urban planning and development. In 1995 the final change to our patch came when Commissioner Thomas C. Fraiser went to a double patch system in which we put a patch on both shoulders. Through all the changes one thing has remained the same, and that is every man or woman that wears or has worn the patch of a Baltimore Police Officer has worn a patch of pride and taken an oath to protect and serve a city that they have come to love and respect.
In 1995 the story went a Commissioner was standing in the lobby of the Omni Hotel; it was Preakness time, the horses ready to run, the city poised for a week of wealthy horse owners partying hard in the city of Baltimore. A tourist town, not a city; thanks to previous administrations in city hall circa the 1970’s we were no longer a city. A lady frantically calls for the attention of a bellhop, “I say you there… excuse me… you… yes you!: she calls frantically, “My bags; excuse me, I am not going to ask you again to get my bags, and for every second you waste, your tip will be reflected!” Still, she gets no response, “Perhaps he is deaf in his right ear, she mutters under her breath as she circles around this tall bellhop wearing more gold on his sleeves than Libya’s prime minister Moammar Kadafi, with more scrambled eggs on his hat and sleeve cuffs than Deny’s and IHOP will sell in a day… As she approaches from his left side about to comment on his good ear, she reads Baltimore Police on his shoulder patch, looking up to his nameplate she see’s he is none other than Badge number 1…Commissioner Thomas Frasier. So he carried her bags to her room, she tipped him $20 bucks... (OK that part didn’t really happen... he didn’t take the tip) But with this rumor, a rumor that some actually believe, and others claim they were there... we’ll not them, but a close friends, old partner’s trainee. Two things happened that year... oh yeah, I almost forgot, Fraiser then ran back to his office, called down to the Quartermaster and insisted patches we put a patch on both shoulders and by the end of the next day. While it wasn’t part of the story, and he didn’t actually say this, he also said, “and while at it, no more white shirts, from now on all blue shirts for Officers and sergeants wanting to wear them during certain shifts. I said all f this tongue in cheek and introduced it while referring to it a rumor through out because it has never been confirmed and while we are not sure f he was mistaken as a Bellhop or other hotel employee, we do know a few things about this story. On the uniform he was wearing, and I will only say uniform because it had Baltimore City Police Buttons on the front, six or eight, double breasted, t had shoulder boards, four stars on the sleeves and was allegedly made by Howard Uniform with an identification patch on the inside right pocket the way all of our uniforms were marked. The things we know untrue based on that same uniform is that it had no patches on the sleeves, no place for a name plate, or badge. As I have pointed out elsewhere on this page, I have been in contact with Retired commissioner Fraiser and asked about the double patch and blue shirts… He said it was all done for safety. Being a historian, I like the old styles; I liked the old cloth ribbons, the Espantoon, and leather gun belt and holsters. But I also like safety and have spoken to a lot of officers about all of these things, Blue shirts, and double patches are one thing most police like. While it is not a safety issue most guys and gals like the enamel awards over the cloth ribbons and see two-thirds of my career was spent out of uniform, I have little say in what the medals were made of. But that s off topic. The truth is, in every rumor we have ever heard about being mistaken for a bellhop due to not having a patch on both sleeves, was debunked when the Tuxedo from that night was uncovered and found to have no patches, no badge, and no nameplate. This lends credibility to his adding a patch for safety, making shirt dark blue again for safety. So like anything rumors make interesting and humorous stories, but they do not make history. Lets quash rumors with the truth.
The current patch design with exception to the omission of the word CITY was designed in 1966 and put into service in 1967. It was created in the shape of a shield to represent protection for those who wear it, and all those he or she will serve. The Patch has a blue background that like the blue field of our American flag represents vigilance, perseverance & justice. The gold/yellow border of the patch reminds us and those confronting us that we are here to protect and uphold everyone’s constitutional rights. This too goes back to our nation's flag, in particular, American flags that have 3 or 4 sides of gold fringe; most often found in courtrooms. In the background on the field of blue, we see our State flag in the shape of Baltimore Police Department's 4th issue badge; this was to represent our agency. The badge with our state flag encased inside is to represent our organization as having once fallen under the control of the state government.
The Maryland flag, by the way, is the only flag in our country to have been designed solely based on our English heraldry. The black and gold design on the state flag is the coat of arms of the Calvert family, while the red and white design is the coat of arms of the Crossland family. In the foreground, we see the Battle Monument which is not only the first public war memorial in the United States to honor the memories of those who fell during the battle of 1812, but since 1827 it has been the official seal of Baltimore City. Like the patch, the monument is filled with symbolic meaning to remind us all of the sacrifices made for our city and country. Everything from the eighteen layers in the marble base that represent the eighteen states that made our nation at the time. To its griffins, one at each corner of the base, ever on the watch like the Baltimore police they will guard and protect. The column itself which is carved as a Roman fasces and is bound with cords listing the names of those who died during the battle. Citing the names of officers who died at the top and the soldiers down the bottom.
The monument is topped with an 8-foot tall marble statue of a female figure representing the City of Baltimore. She has come to be known as, “Lady Baltimore” and some say she was modeled after Anne Arundell, the wife of Cecilius Calvert and also known as Lady Baltimore. In either case, the statue wears a crown of victory on her head and holds a laurel wreath in her raised hand as a symbol of victory over the British. In her lowered hand, she holds a ship's rudder as a testament to Baltimore's Nautical role in the war.
This 28 June 1952 article not only gives us info as to when the "rocker patch" was first used, giving us our first shoulder patch, it also mentions plans they had for a separate patch to be used on the shirt sleeves. We made a mock-up of what that patch would have looked like and we may have some sets made of the two patches, for collectors and educational purposes.
This is the orange/gold and black rocker patch proposed for use on left coat/blouse sleeve only.
This was initially applied to new officer’s uniforms as part of the uniform; veterans had to pay 30 cents per patch to bring their current uniforms up to date, their later uniforms came with the patches at no additional costs.
While the first thoughts were to put these patches on coats and summer blouses only and having a blue/white patch made for the shirts. That plan never came to fruition, and shirts didn’t get patches until much later.
Proposed white and blue to have been used on left shirt sleeve. When the rocker was devised it was to set us apart from the county police and from special police that used to design uniforms to look like us. Pomerleau put an end to that, he used an old 1907 law that allowed the BPD to approve or deny uniforms of “Special Police,” security guards etc. His first rule was no left sleeve patches, no collar pin rank, or Md insignia, and a 1" red seam down the pant legs etc. He was tired of not just having them try to look like us, but us having to answer for their errors from a public that was mistaking them for us..
The blue and white patch was an idea from 1952 when they first started wearing a shoulder patch on the left sleeve of the coats and summer blouses. At the time no patch was worn on the shirt sleeve, and the thought was we should have a patch that blends with the white shirt as much as the patch did with the dark coat. They wanted the patch to be visible, but look like it belonged, not as if it was out of place, so a dark patch with yellow/orange lettering and marrow on the dark coat/blouse with that in mind a patch for a white shirt would have to be white, so they chose blue letters and a blue marrow.
The blue patch was never done, for a while they went without a shirt patch
This 1 Oct 1952 article not only talks about the "rocker patch" but also tells when why they did away with the "brass wheel and horse" used by traffic police and replaced it with a similar patch done in a cloth material.
Rumors as to why "City" came off the BPD Patch
Pomerleau was unceremoniously "summoned" to King Don's Office, upon which Schaeffer proceeded to "rip him a new one" for some transgression, of which we have no knowledge! If you knew DDP, you'll also know that that Marine was not going to take a lot of crap from the Mayor, and finally blew up! He informed the Mayor that his boss was Governor Tawes and that he didn't have to answer to "The Donald" at all, it was considered to be one heckova confrontation of two extremely large Baltimore egos! At any rate, when DDP returned from City Hall, he contacted his Quarter Master, and told him to have "City" removed from the official patch, and to begin to retrofit all uniforms with the new patch, a patch that read "Baltimore Police."
And, that is how it happened! Or is it?
Eventually, The appointing authority was restored to the Mayor! Who would want to bet it wasn't long after William Donald Schaeffer was elected Governor of Maryland... Of course, that's just a joke, as the Baltimore City Police Department remained under state governance until 1978, when the Mayor began to appoint the Police Commissioner, subject to confirmation by the City Council (Chapter 920, Acts of 1976), and William Donald Schaeffer wasn't elected Governor of Maryland until 1986. By the way, Donald Pomerleau was the commissioner from 1966 until 1981, so, the two Don's must had made up, otherwise, Mayor Don, would have had four years to oust Commissioner Don,
Since including the stories of our Patch history on this site, we received another version or variant on one of the other versions of why we took "City" off our patch.
Here is what was written:
Kenny the way I heard it from my father "he worked CP-11" it wasn't Donald D it was Battaglia who changed it. A reporter asks Battaglia a question about Baltimore "City" and Baltimore "County" Police. To which Battaglia stated there is only one Baltimore Police Dept, the next day the Quartermaster on the Mez level was ordered to change all of our shirts. I forget the QM Sgt name but he and my father went back to the 50th together. I was a new probationary officer when this happened.
Every version we get is important as they will either take us to the truth, or help build the foundation under what we already have, in this case, if we look at Fifteen Years of Progress Donald Pomerleau we'll see the cover has the latest version of the patch (without "City") showing the change could have been made before Battaglia was Commissioner. (That don't mean he didn't make the change as Deputy Commissioner) I mean of the two versions, the one with the two Dons came from a very reliable source, (it was firsthand information, but memories fade and he could have it rememebred wong.) The timing was right, the patch shows up on PC Don Pomerleau's progress report, so it looks like the "Don P vs. Don S" version is strong. Still, some might say, Battaglia did this, so it would naturally show up on the departmental seal/letterhead on the Pomerleau report. Ya gotta love it.
Since adding this information, someone sent us the following information:
I came on in February 1978. Donald Pomerleau was commissioner. I got six long sleeve white and six short sleeve white single patch Baltimore Police" patch shirts. Now, I'm not saying that Batman had nothing to do with the change. I'm only pointing out that we had the new patches while Pomerleau was Commissioner.
No Patch, Rocker Patch, Baltimore City Police Patch, Baltimore Police Patch... and now the double shoulder patchs. The Baltimore Police Department has seen its fair share of uniform changes, rich in tradition, badge changes etc. all in the name of building the perfect police department, politics, pride and any number of other reasons. For many years no patch was worn on the sleeves of our police, it was our hat, jacket with brass buttons, and an Espantoon tucked under our arm or in our hand that let citizens know of our authority. In 1952 there came the first of many it was a rocker patch, yellow/orange letters on a black field that read, “Baltimore City Police”. In 1967/68 as the department grew and came more into the modern age, so did the patch that would be used to identify us. They retired that “rocker patch”, a patch that was actually a good idea, a rocker signifying the department would often have a circular patch under it designating a unit, motors, radio patrol, mounted, marine etc. A nice idea some felt, others felt it took a singular department and separated it into a lot of little departments (I didn’t see it that way but over the years those that can count beans, or make rules will. They have also changed units from “Units” to “Divisions” to "Sections" and back again. Most of the times the changes were made to unit, or out of fear of separating… Divisions divided, Sections separated, but Units United… all hogwash, mumbo jumbo… At any rate, they did come up with a better patch, and it did make one team, it was said that the public was confused. So they came out with the Baltimore City Police shoulder patch, like the rocker patch it was worn on the left shoulder (this was so an officer could be quickly identified from within his patrol car) Or was it because that was the shoulder used by our military, and we are a para military organization. Now comes the real reason the change was made that became the product of many rumors, in 1975/76 the word "City" was dropped from the patch, giving us an almost 100% identical patch with the exception of the word “City” being removed from the patch. This change produced three rumors many stories all based on the same three principals. 1st as were heard previously, to save Money… 2nd an argument with the mayor (the department was under control of the state, so when the Don’s got into a heated argument over something one did or didn’t do, the PC Don told the Mayor Don, he was sworn in by the Gov and to basically to go pound sand, Mayor Don told PC Don, his patch says "City" not "State" and that he should serve him.. PC Don then ordered "City" be dropped from the patch as an in your face to Mayor Don. Then come the 3rd reason, they wanted Baltimore to seem more like a town than a city, in fact at one time this was known as Baltimore Town, not Baltimore City. So in order to bring about this change they dropped “City” from the patch. Some of our smartest detectives, and brightest minds believed reason number 1, I can assure you it is not #1. I have had tons of patches made over the years, and we don’t pay by the letter, it is a patch, not engraving. 2nd and 3rd will have even the most scholarly of police argue over which is right. As a rookie I thought #1 was right (of course it was the only version I had ever heard, and I didn’t know what I know now. But now, I know some things I didn’t before, and I put 2 and 2 together (something we are not supposed to do.. because logic never fits in.) So, I won’t say which story is the true version, instead, I will simply point something things out and let you decide. On July 4, 1976, following the rendezvous of Tall Ships in New York for the U.S. Bicentennial, eight ships from other nations visited Baltimore, where they attracted a huge number of tourists. This interest helped spur the development of other tourist attractions – including the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, and the Harborplace festival marketplace (operated by The Rouse Company), which opened on the Fourth of July, 1980. The nearby Baltimore Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Baltimore Hotel added to the services and resulted in population density and visitors.
Since the at the beginning of Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin's second term in 1963, the redevelopment program was expanded to include 240 acres (97 had) surrounding the Inner Harbor. Corporate headquarters and hotels were built around the shoreline of the Inner Harbor. A public park and promenade were added for leisure activity and community gatherings. Mayor Don Schaffer succeeded where McKeldin let off, he had a tourist town made from a onetime dyeing port town. Right off I-95 a beautiful inner harbor, with attractions, on top of attractions with still more attractions, but what was our downfall? It was our image, since Baltimore’s beginning times, it was a Mob Town, high crime rates etc. So what Baltimore tourist town needed was different from Baltimore crime town, Baltimore Mod Town… Those visiting needed to come see for themselves, we didn’t need to lie on street signs exiting travelers off the interstate into Baltimore. But into Baltimore what? Baltimore City? Baltimore County? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I don’t know why they dropped "City" from the patch… I doubt it was cost, it actually cost more to take city off than to leave it on so #1 is doubtful… not to mention they also dropped "City" from traffic signs, no longer did it say "Baltimore City 25 miles, now it reads,"Baltimore 25 miles" the Don’s were both bull headed, and to be honest PC Don would more likely leave City on a patch so he could thumb his nose up at Mayor Don all the while rubbing it in that his patch says City, but he answers to a Governor. And with the success of Baltimore’s Innr Harbor, I am more likely to believe # 3… But what you believe is up to you, all three are fun. Have at it. Now let’s go on to another Patch rumor and a story/rumor as crazy or crazier than Don vs. Don over a City. I contacted Ret. Police Commissioner Thomas Frasier on 14 January 2014 and asked him to clear this up for me... He said it is all true... everything we have heard about him having the patches changed and the shirt colors altered is true... except the part about the Omni, and the part about the bell hops uniform it is all true. He did order double patches, and he did order darker shirts despite, his popularity in Baltimore, he actually enjoyed his time here, and regardless of what some may say, he was police, and as police he is part of the brotherhood, he attended 4 police funerals during his time 1994 to 1999; Those included -Lieutenant Owen Sweeney, Officer Harold Carey, Flight Officer Barry Woodand he came back for the 2000 funeral of OfficerRoussey. People don’t think the Brass care, they are not on the level of those of us on the street. It is true they are on a level of Mayors, Governors etc. But I was on the department's Critical Incident Team, and I was called out to handle the Death of Officer Harold Carey, There was a long wait while they freed Keith from the van that day, and I was standing their like everyone else waiting to get word on my friend, and co-worker, I saw someone out of the corner of my walk-up and stand there off to my side, on the team there is no rank, so we could break ranks and approach, I did, and when asked about injuries I told him we lost Harold Carey, the look on his face, being overcome with sadness, was genuine, he cared. What follows is his response as to why he made the changes. It was strictly an officer safety issue. Officers need to be recognized in low light conditions by their uniform. No visible insignia of authority was visible from the right side. Thus the addition of the patch. The same but reversed when it came to the white shirts issued to patrol officers. The fabric was such that it was extremely visible in the dark, thus a safety issue to someone on a perimeter, etc. Thus a change to blue shirts with a patch on each side. TF
Again we appreciate his taking the time to set the record straight and to let us know he did care, and thought of himself as a brother. While in most cases we don’t feel that way, we have to realize that on some level they have to care. It would be nice if they all could be more like Norris, When he told the media like it was, or Hamm who told the media, “I don’t know, you tell me!” as if to say, you have all the answers, and or, “you are going to write what you want anyway!” For those that think city hall pulls the strings of a PC, the way many seem to think the current Mayor and former PCFrederick H. Bealefeld worked together… a duet that had the younger of us thinking McCarthyism was more like that of the puppeteer Edgar Bergen and his little wooden friend Charley McCarthy. McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means "the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism."