History of the NOPD Badge
The Star and Crescent badge, unique to the NOPD, has been worn by members of the department since 1855. The crescent represents the shape of the city, as the Mississippi River forms a crescent shape around the city. The star represents the power of a state or local government to preserve order and keep the peace; it is a traditional symbol of law enforcement authority in the United States.
Patrolmen (Police Officer I, II, III, IV) wear silver badges; Detectives and ranking officers wear gold badges. Officers and Detectives are issued four- and high three digit badge numbers, (approx. #470 to 2999). These numbers remain with them throughout their careers unless they are promoted to ranking officer. All Department badge numbers are randomly assigned, and may be reissued when the officer retires or quits the department.
If an officer is killed or dies in the line of duty, then that number is permanently retired and not reissued. When an Officer becomes a Detective, his badge retains the same number he had as an Officer, except it will now be gold. When an Officer is promoted to Sergeant, he is reissued a new gold badge with a three-digit number,(approx. #200 to 470), a Lieutenant also gets a new gold badge and three-digit number (approx. #100 to 200). Captains, Majors and Chiefs all have two-digit gold badges (#99 and below). A District Commander will wear the number of his assigned police district on his badge (#1 to 8). The Superintendent and deputy chiefs do not display badge numbers on their badges, only their rank position.
Superintendent of Police Badge
Historically, the Superintendent of Police wore his badge upside-down (inverted) compared to the badges worn by the rest of the police force. This was originally begun during the late 1800s to make the Superintendent stand out among the rest of the police force. It is also symbolic in that the Superintendent alone carries the weight and power of the Police Department and has the responsibility to lead.
The chief's badge has a star on top with the crescent shape underneath, while all the other officers wear a badge with the crescent on top and the star on bottom. All superintendents of police for the NOPD wore the inverted badge inverted until Chief Warren Woodfork changed the tradition in 1985. Woodfork's replacement, Chief Arnesta Taylor, reinstituted the tradition in 1992. Taylor's replacement, Chief Joseph Orticke, continued the tradition until he was replaced by Richard Pennington. Pennington wore the badge "right side up", same as other members of the department. In 2002, Chief Eddie Compass returned to tradition and wore the badge as it had historically been worn. Chief Warren Riley continued the tradition of wearing the chief's badge upside-down in November 2005. When Superintendent Serpas took over in 2010, he also continued to wear the chief's badge inverted.
Reserve Police Officers
Reserve police officers are part-time unpaid volunteers with full police power and authority, the same as full-time paid officers. All Reserve officers are issued five-digit badges, with a three-digit number preceded by "10" to signify a Reserve Officer (example: # 10123). Reserve officers wear silver badges, with Reserve ranking officers wearing gold. The uniform of a Reserve Officer is the same as a full time officer. The "10" on the officer's badge number is the only thing distinguishing a reserve officer's uniform from that of a regular full-time officer.
Civilian Employees and Unpaid Support Volunteers
Certain civilian employees and unpaid support volunteers of the New Orleans Police Department who may have to identify themselves in public or at crime scenes as Police Department representatives are issued silver badges with their job title or position displayed on them (e.g. Equipment Operator, Crime Scene Tech, Chaplain, Brake Inspector, Electronics Tech, Crisis Transportation Unit). These badges do not have badge ID numbers on them, but instead usually have radio unit call numbers for identification and the name of the unit assigned, and may be transferred between persons as needed. They are shaped like the star and crescent badge of commissioned officers, but have the holder's job title and radio unit call number/unit ID number engraved on the center of the star, where an officer's displays rank and badge number. The crescent part of the badge reads New Orleans Police, the same as on an officer's badge.