The new badges are out!

For 100 years, Long Beach police officers have had more or less the same badge they’ve used to flash at both suspected criminals and people who might be skeptical that they’re a real cop.

On Wednesday, the LBPD announced the release of a 100-year commemorative badge to be worn by police officers through the balance of the year.

Why has it had the same design for a century when so many other things have changed in this city since 1924? Perhaps because it’s been perfectly serviceable over the decades, falling under the category of “If it’s not broke,” though that has rarely stopped the city from fixing things that weren’t broke many times throughout its history.

The original design was done by Los Angeles artist H.H. Hanners, father of LBPD Detective Sgt. George W. Hanners, in 1924, several decades after the department was founded in 1888.

A search through some archival newspapers didn’t turn up any evidence of public bellyaching regarding the design — nothing approaching the flap over the signs welcoming drivers to Belmont Shore. The original badge might have seemed garish at the time to some, and if there’s anything to cavil about, it would be that the badge packed a lot of visual information into a three-and-one-half-inch gold-plated bronze emblem: It was topped by an eagle with its wings spread, had a star at its center along with an image of a portion of Catalina Island and a vessel bobbing along on the breakers of the Pacific, along with the badge number, the words “City of Long Beach” atop the abbreviation “Calif.” to further narrow it down, a couple of “LB” initials bracketing the circle, the bearer’s designation and badge number.

The LBPD’s current badge design, which will be replaced by a commemorative version through the end of the year. Photo courtesy the LBPD.

The new, commemorative badge sheds some of the clutter. Gone is Catalina and the little watercraft along with the breakers. The tie-breaking “Calif.” is also gone. Could be any one of a half dozen or more Long Beaches.

With the visual editing, the 100-year anniversary badge is cleaner and crisper than the old one, which will continue to be in use after the celebration is over and the centennial quiets down.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.