Posted 3 years ago
Milwaukee’s 22 Year Presentation Badges
I am writing this as a collector of Milwaukee, Wisconsin badges. What follows may not apply to badges from other cities.
Presentation badges are usually private purchase badges that are not official issues. These badges are usually in silver or gold with extensive engraving on their backs and sometimes include precious stones. Sizes may vary but are usually smaller than full size badges and their designs remain unaltered. Most collectors assume that these badges are retirement badges. The actual retirement badges are usually silver or silver plated and are issued by the “union” or the American Legion Police or Fire posts. Inscriptions on the backs usually state the retiree’s name and dates of service. The years of service can run as high as forty-plus years based on the badges I have seen. The gold versions however are another story. Back in the late 1970’s I found two such badges at a Milwaukee gun and military show. Both are extensively engraved including the man’s name, dates of service and who presented the badge. One badge in white gold was named to a Milwaukee Police Detective and the other in yellow gold was named to an Assistant Fire Chief. Both badges are for 22 years service! Coincidence? Later research results found that both men retired with more than 22 years of service. As time passed I acquired three more badges for 22 years of service. Friends of mine also have 22 year service badges in their collections. The Milwaukee Police Historical Society has at least one or two 22 year service badges on display at the academy. None of my retired police friends had any idea as to what the significance of 22 years could have been. Then recently while researching names on the internet I was led to The National Police Journal issue of June (?) 1921 with an article entitled “The Police of the Cream City” by L. M. Schaefer. On page 8 of that article is a description of the pension plan for Milwaukee City employees. The plan which covered both the police and fire departments gave employees full vesting after 22 years of service!! That means that after 22 years of service employees could not lose their pensions even if fired for cause! Now I can understand the 22 year celebration.