September 9, 1915: Duluth Police trade in their stars for shields

On this day in Duluth in 1915, the Duluth Police Department received a shipment of 124 new badges modeled after those used by New York City’s police. Prior to 1915, Duluth police wore stars. A photo of the first uniformed Duluth Police Department from 1883 shows that the star badges had five, six, and eight sides, possibly indicating rank. The 1915 pressed-metal shields measured three inches high and two inches wide and were coated with a nickel finish. Patrolman’s badges were numbered 1 through 100, and the numbers were pierce-cut, so that the blue of the officers’ uniforms showed behind the numbers. The words “Duluth Police” were stamped onto a ribbon motif, under which was stamped the 1889 Duluth city seal. Badges for sergeants, lieutenants, detectives, and Captain A. G. Fiskett were identical to those of the patrolmen, but the higher-ranking officer’s title was used in place of a number. Two gold badges were also issued, one for Police Chief McKercher and the other for Public Safety Commissioner Bernard Silberstein. Members of today’s Duluth Police Department wear a different shield, crowned with an eagle and including the phrase “Est. 1870.”

Duluth Police Department badges introduced September 9, 1915. (Image: Zenith City Press)

The Duluth Police Department photographed in 1883. (Image: Duluth Public Library)