Baltimore City Police Patches

Rocker Patch 1952 sma
1952 Sunpaper Photo Digital Painting 
Introduction of the BPD Shoulder Rocker Patch

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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
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BCPD-2 - 1968/1974
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BPD-3 - 1975/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!"


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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 know 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 heckuva 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!

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 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, but at least we know the real story, or at least most of it...

Since including the stories of our Patch history on this site, I 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 ask 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 when 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. I mean of the two versions, the one with the two Dons came from a very reliable source, (it was firsthand information) 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 early in his term as PC, 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 Department" shirts.  Now, I'm not saying that Bat man 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 Patch, Baltimore Police Patch... double shoulder patch. The Baltimore Police Department has seen its fair share of uniform changes, rich in tradition, badges 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 out 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, yellows 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 actually 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 hog wash, 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). Now comes a change that was 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 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, 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. 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 ha) 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? ¯\_()_/¯ 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… 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 Inter 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.

In 1995 the story goes a Commissioner was standing in the Omni Hotel, it was Preakness time, the horses ready to run, the city posed for a week of rich horse owners partying hard in the city of Baltimore, a tourist town, not a city… A lady frantically calls for he attention of a bellhop, “I say boy… yes you there!: she calls frantically, “my bags; excuse me, I am not going to ask you again to get my bags, and for every second you waist, your tip will be reflected!” Still she gets no response, “perhaps he is def in his right ear, she says under her breath as she circles around this tall bell hop wearing more gold on his sleeves than Libya’s prime minister Moammar Kadafi, with more gold Easter eggs on his hat than Captain Crunch. 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 name plate 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... well 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 officer, called down to the Quartermaster and insisted patches be put on both shoulders. 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 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 Wood and he came back for the 2000 funeral of Officer Roussey. 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 departments 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 PC
Frederick 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.

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."



Collector, Novelty and Unit Patches

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Please contact Det. Ret. Kenny Driscoll if you have any pictures of you or your family members and wish them remembered here on this tribute site to Honor the fine men and women who have served with Honor and Distinction at the Baltimore Police Department.

Anyone with information, photographs, memorabilia, or other "Baltimore City Police" items can contact Ret. Det. Kenny Driscoll at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. follow us on Twitter @BaltoPoliceHist or like us on Facebook or mail pics to 8138 Dundalk Ave. Baltimore Md. 21222