Monday, January 8, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — Virginia State Police are marking their 75th anniversary by allowing troopers to wear a commemorative badge that replicates those worn in 1932.

“It’s the first time in state police history that we’ve ever allowed for a commemorative badge to be worn as part of the standard uniform,” department spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. “Seventy-five years is a pretty significant milestone.”

The vintage badges include the birth year of the department and cost $27. So far, 1,400 of the agency’s 1,900 sworn officers have purchased or ordered the badge.

Trooper Steve Rusher prefers them.

“I’m a traditionalist,” Trooper Rusher said. “You look at this badge and think, ‘Wow, it’s something that the first state troopers wore.’ ”

Retired state police officers can purchase the reproductions beginning next year.

“We’re still getting more purchase orders in, as … more people get a chance to see the badge and want to take advantage of this opportunity,” Ms. Geller said.

The badges — resembling a firefighter’s shield — are rounder than the traditional police badge, with a larger eagle over the Virginia state seal. They display the trooper’s identification number prominently and include the words “75th Anniversary: Valor, Service, Pride.”

The vintage badges were worn by state troopers until 1946. The agency’s current badge has been worn since then.

Police officers typically are not allowed to alter their uniform with pins or decorations.

“Often when you have a commemorative item, you can’t wear it,” Ms. Geller said. “Everyone is very enthusiastic about having the opportunity.”

Active troopers and special agents must remove the badges on Jan. 1.

No state funds were used to purchase the badges.

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