JP First Responders: Decoding the Boston Police badge

June 7, 2013
By
(Gazette Photo by John Ruch) A giant, generic version of the Boston Police Department badge as seen on a monument outside BPD headquarters in Roxbury.

(Gazette Photo by John Ruch) A giant, generic version of the Boston Police Department badge as seen on a monument outside BPD headquarters in Roxbury.

A galloping horse and a Bible quote are among the decorations on the Boston Police badge carried by every officer.

While most people probably avoid situations where they would see a police badge up-close, there is a lot going on for those who take a look. A giant version is available for view at the Boston Police headquarters memorial at Ruggles and Tremont streets in Roxbury.

Tucked between the words “Boston” and “Police” at the top of the badge is a rider on a horse, its tail flying. Boston Police Department (BPD) historian Officer Robert Anthony identified the rider as Revolutionary hero Paul Revere, while the department website at bpdnews.com just describes it as a symbol of speedy service.

A lot of architecture is on the badge. The Boston skyline as seen from the harbor is in the center. To the left is the steeple of the Old North Church, where Paul Revere arranged a secret signal about the British invasion that kicked off the Revolutionary War. To the right is Fanueil Hall, the historic meeting hall where many Revolutionary speeches were made and plots hatched.

The badge bears three different inscriptions in Latin. One refers to the founding of Boston as a town in 1630. Another notes the incorporation of Boston as a city in 1822.

The badge also bears the Latin motto, “Sicut patribus sit deus nobis.” That is a translation of the Bible verse 1 Kings 8:57, “God be with us as He was with our fathers.”

Every badge also includes its holder’s rank and identification number. For regular beat cops, the gender-biased rank “patrolman” was replaced with “police officer” in 1997.

The BPD was founded in 1854. The general modern badge design was introduced in 1959, according to Anthony. It is made of chrome-plated brass with blue-and-white enamel.