CALIFORNIA CITY – The California City Police Department is getting new patches for their uniforms, with a new design to replace the city seal.
Chief Jon Walker presented the new design to the city council Sept 14., saying the current patches are outdated and the city’s seal did not translate well on their uniforms. He added that officers overwhelmingly approved the design and getting new patches would help boost morale amongst the department.
The new design is in the shape of a shield to suggest the department serves as guardians, not warriors, Walker said. Its dark blue, with a gold embroidery and inside has the department motto “Protect and Serve with Pride” in addition to the city’s motto “Land of the Sun”.
The graphic features snow covered mountains with the sun rising in the background, and the American flying across. Walker says the sun represents California, and the mountains represent the Tehachapi mountains in the wintertime.
Council members shared their misgivings about changing the patches, preferring the city seal which they say has represented Cal City for over five decades.
“If we update patches, we improve morale?” Mayor Jeanie O’Laughlin said.
“Absolutely,” Walker responded. “In a small department like ours, it’s the little things that helps us move forward.”
Council member Kelly Kulikoff said he could get behind a sentiment that officers approved of.
“If the Chief is willing to address the little things to boost morale, I can support that.”
O’Laughlin said the move should have been a community decision and suggested a city-wide rebranding may have been a better option to keep things uniform.
Community members also spoke out against the change.
“This is a big deal. If we were going to make a change why wasn’t this a contest for the kids, or the community? I am 100 percent against it,” resident Tami Marie said.
Resident Shawn Bradley said the move would “redefine who we are as a community”. Adding that “Officers are here to protect our community, so if there’s a morale issue in the department maybe they need additional resources?”
However, Pastor Ron Smith came out in support of the department’s willingness to change.
“I’m a traditionalist, but sometimes change is good. If we can enjoy morale and the officers want to do it, I say let them. Why bring it to the community? They’re not going to wear that badge.”
The chief stressed that he was not required to bring the item to the city but did so as a courtesy to the council.
Nonetheless, council members approved the new patches unanimously.
Walker says that’s what matters most to him, as his department already approved the design, and he was serving as more of a messenger to the council.
“Maybe my presentation wasn’t explicit enough,” Walker said. “They have questions and I’m willing to answer, but it worked out.”
He said patches are a “big deal” in the police world, and many officers keep their patches for years and even trade them amongst each other.
“There’s a lot of different things we continue to do different and better, and this is just something small for our department to show we’re progressive and moving forward,” Walker said.
The new patches are expected to arrive sometime in October, but in observation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Cal City police will wear special patches in honor for October and switch over to the new patches after.