Members from each Colorado police agency gathered Friday to display badges to the public in hopes of educating them about the make and style of authentic badges.
“It’s a way for agencies to pull together and do what we can to give people the tools to feel comfortable again,” said Rita Davis, spokesperson for the Fort Collins Police Services.
The idea to display the badges was first proposed by Eloise Campanella, press information officer for the Larimer County Sheriffs Office. Campanella suggested concerned individuals keep pictures of the various badges in their vehicles for identification or study them for future reference.
“We were hoping to give the public back some of their power,” she said. “It will give them something they can hold onto.”
Russ Zeller, public information officer for district three, was asked to be involved with the badge showing.
“I think it’s a good idea we do this,” he said. “I think it will help ease the public’s stress and tension.
Trooper Zeller said recent cases of police impersonation are so remote, but because they are so highly publicized, they bring more fear.
The display provided the community with knowledge and the opportunity for Colorado agencies to be properly identified.
“It will help legitimate officers to be more readily identified,” Campanella said.
Captain Justin Smith of the Larimer County Sheriffs office addressed the media reiterating the significance of the meeting.
“Our concern is the same concern as the public,” he said. “These events degrade everybody’s confidence.”
He said the two important things to look for on a badge are the Colorado state seal and the agency name.
“If you are stopped and a badge is shown, it’s important to ask to see the badge,” Smith said.
He said all officers also carry an agency identification card, which includes their picture, seal agency name and a contact number on it. He cautioned that such a card could be created by an imposter and therefore should not be the sole means of identification.
“An officer would never show up with just a business card,” he said.
Smith told onlookers it is hard to regulate which badges end up on the street after they are no longer in circulation.
“Old badges can end up on the street,” he said. “There is no real ability to regulate what’s out there.”
Some online auction sites have regulations banning the sale of badges currently used by agencies.
He also stressed owning or possessing a badge is only a crime if used to impersonate an officer.
“Not everyone who possesses a police badge is in violation of the law,” he said.
Smith said the most affective way to identify a legitimate officer is to take a close look at an officer’s badge.
“The badge agency identification is the best way to tell a legitimate officer.
Pull Quote: “If you are stopped and a badge is shown, it’s important to ask to see the badge.”
– Captain Justin Smith
Pull Quote: “We were hoping to give the public back some of their power,” she said. “It will give them something they can hold onto.”
– Eloise Campanella