Officer Paul Levinson
To the late Officer Paul Levinson of the Baltimore City Police, formerly of the Northern District Station who, as a historian and collector of Baltimore Police badges, was unequaled in the field; and as such, I credit him as a contributor to this project. That we owe the greatest debt of gratitude to quench, the thirst of knowledge, he Is missed by his brother officers in the role of the thin, blue line.
Exhibition Research Project for the University of Leiden
When was the badge of the Baltimore Police Force designed?
Has It been restyled' ever since?
A quasi-official Police Force, the Nightwatch, was established in 1784, and it wasn't until 1797, when Baltimore was incorporated into a city, did a full-time, paid Police Force comes into existence. Until this time, no uniform, or symbol of authority was used. In 1836 the first symbol to be used to distinguish a Police Officer from the general populace took the form of a cap-band. The shape of the cap-band was of a rectangle. This was made of leather, dyed black in color, about 11 Inches in length, and 2 1 /2 inches in width. Affixed to the cap-band by European-style acorn rivets were brass tribune-style letters which spelled "POLICE". The cap-band was secured to a stove-pipe-styled hat by four tie-strings just above the brim of the hat. This device was used until 1851. In 1851, the city issued the first metallic breast badge made of brass and struck in a press. This took the shape of a six-pointed star and in the middle of the star, an oval with the words "CITY POLICE" around the sides. The Battle Monument was in the center and “1797” at the bottom of the oval. These were embossed into the oval. This badge was issued to 350 paid, full-time Police Officers who for the first time, were also issued uniforms and cap with large, brass numbers affixed to the front, which identified the Officer for his pay records, moreover to the public to Identify him This number-system was a carry-over from the British Military, which used a number instead of a name for identification purposes. This badge was used until 1860. The second metallic badge issued was known as the Roman Fasces (pronounced phasies). Also made of brass and struck in a two-piece dye, this badge for the first time carried the name of the city and designated the Officers as Baltimore Police. The city's Battle Monument was deleted from the design and a Roman Staff of Justice was incorporated Into the design. This was due in part as a result of Baltimore City being occupied from 1860 to 1862 by Federal troops during the American Civil War (1860- 1865) as result of Baltimore's location, and large pockets of Southern sympathizers. This was a very unpopular badge with the Police, as it symbolized the Federal occupation of the city. The third style metallic' badge was issued in 1862. This was also a dye-struck style badge, which was known as the Twenty-point Star, taking the name from-the-twenty points just inside the outer surrounding rim. The badge was made of German nickel-silver and took the same design as the center oval of the six-pointed star; again the Battle Monument, which has become symbol of Baltimore City was integrated back Into the badge. The fourth style metallic badge was issued In 1890. This design was known as the shield-type badges, also a dye-struck badge made of German nickel-silver. This badge was thought to be very modern for the period. However the Battle Monument was again dropped, and Incorporated into the design for the first time was the Maryland State Coat of Arms, as at this time the Police came under the control of the Governor of the state, Instead of the Mayor. The fifth issued metallic badge known as an Eagle-top 6was Issued. In 1976; It is a two-piece casting of brass with nickel finish to the badge surface. The old-style shield Is retained In the center with the State Coat of Arms In color, and the Battle Monument superimposed over the Coat of Arms to show that, once again, the Police came under the control of the Mayor of the City. The badge also retains the number system which Identifies the Officer to the public. This badge Is still In use today.
What Is the date of establishment of the city mark which occurs In the badge?
Since When is it in use of the Baltimore Police Force?
The date of the city's Battle Monument to commemorate the Battle of Fort McHenry Is 1815. The Inception of the Battle Monument on the first metallic badge was on the six-pointed star, issued in 1851 .
Is the tower which stands In front of the City mark a typical feature of Baltimore?
Is it originally with or without a statue? What Is the name of the statue, does it have a symbolic meaning?
The tower known as the "Battle Monument" tower. It was the first monument built in Baltimore City and is a well-known landmark In the city; The tower did originally have a statue of Lord Baltimore holding a Laurel Wreath of Victory standing atop it; and since 1827, the Battle Monument has been the official symbol of Baltimore City.
Who are the two figures standing beside the city mark In the letter head?
Do they have a symbolic meaning?
The two figures are standing next to the Maryland State, Coat of Arms. The figure standing on the left with a shovel representing industry, is the city's founder, Lord Baltimore. The figure on the right holding a fish on a line, representing Maryland's rich, natural commerce from the Chesapeake Bay, and surrounding farmlands is Lord Calvert.
Are there any further elements In the badge which could be symbolically Interpreted (for example the eagle")?
All the symbols on the different badge types can be symbolically interpreted; they all hold the significance of loyalty to the state, and to the city Government. The Eagle standing atop the current Issue badge is in keeping with many Police Departments throughout the country; It is thought and widely held that the Eagle stands for integrity, and righteousness:
Does every county, or city have its own police badge?
The United States of America is made up of many cities, both large and small metropolitan areas with many counties within each state. To say each has a metallic Police badge would be very assuming to say the least. For example, the state of Maryland has twenty-three counties within its borders. However, fellow collectors and I have found most cities and counties have a badge of their own design, or a shoulder patch to distinguish their Police personnel from another city or county's Police Departments.
Police Involved Shooting
More than a historian, Officer Levinson was good police, he worked the street, and even in the face of danger he took care not to do more damage to a suspect than was neccassary as was evident on the 7th of March 11976, while in the 3702 Falls Rd. in front of the A&P and a man holding his child became aggatated, and took his anger out on Officer Levinson, he began throwing metal rebar at the officer. Most officer's might take the shot easiest the safe shot, center mass, go for the heart, not because police want to kill people, but because it is the shot least like to miss, meaning those arround the suspect are safe, the officer is safe because center mass, is the largest target, if I miss high I have the neck, head etc. if I miss low I have the belly, the legs etc. and to either side, I have pecks, ribs, arms etc. So as you can see it is the safest shot, and a shot most likely to end the threat.
Officer Levinson didn't take the center mass shot, the easy shot, he didn't want to kill the target, all he wanted was to end the threat, so he took careful aim, remembered his breath control, trigger squeeze and that 6 O'clock hold, firing one shot he hit where he aimed, upper thigh, ending the threat, of what he felt was an attempt at Suicide by police... in the end the child still had his father, the wife her husband. The suspet was taken to Union Memorial Hospital where he was treated, then provided some help for a mental condition and sent home with out criminl charges, where he went on to live a full and happy life. Officer Levinson recognized him as having stress and spared his life, suffering PTSD the man was treated. The following is a newspaper article covering this story
Officers Shoots Man in Thigh
7 Mar 1976
On March 7 March 1976 - A Hampden man was in satisfactory condition at Union Memorial Hospital yesterday after a policeman shot him in the thigh.
Officer Paul Levinson, 29, assigned To Northern district, said he shot to wound the man after repeated attempts to calm him failed, and the man advanced on him swinging a metal rod.
Officer Levinson said he encountered the man about 12:15AM
standing in the parking lot of an A & P supermarket at 3702 Falls Rd., screaming and holding his infant child. The man apparently had just come from his home nearby after an argument with his wife, police said, The man threw two metal rods at his police car. Officer Levinson said. then approached him, shouting, "You're going to have to shoot me." When the man was 4 feet away from him, the policeman reported, he fired, hitting him in the leg.
Police said the man set his child down in the parking lot just before he approached the officer. They said the child was returned to its mother after the shooting. No charges have been filed against the man.
Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History - Ret Det Kenny Driscoll