Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Old Twist on "Stinkin' Badges"

When the Texas Rangers were first organized in the 1823, badges were not issued. Instead, Warrants of Authority -- impressive paper documents that officers kept folded in their pockets -- were issued to officers but not to enlisted men. This practice continued, in one form or another, until 1935 when badges and credentials were specified for all Texas Rangers.

Prior to 1935, individual Rangers had badges made from Mexican coins. Some were probably made by jewelers, others may have been made by gunsmiths or metalworkers. It is often reported that Rangers themselves cut them out of coins around campfires, but this is an unlikely legend.

Knowing that Mexican coins were being converted into badges of authority in Texas may have contributed to the attitude in Mexico about "stinkin' badges," so famously portrayed in the movies. Think you know which movie? Check our earlier blog entry here.

These first badges were used as a means of identifying Rangers in the midst of feuds and disputes that might involve several law enforcement agencies, or even where "hired guns" might be found. Photographs taken in the 1870s through the 1920s show
that there was a great variety of badges.

The earliest authenticated Texas Ranger Badge dates back to 1889 or so. The badge shown in the accompanying photo is from the period 1910 to 1925, and is believed to be a "stock" design sold to law enforcement agents through catalogs. The basic design is a durable design, still being used today by a large number of law enforcement agencies including the Texas Rangers. The Badge Company of New Jersey offers more than 20 variations of this design.

Note, there is a vast number of "reproduction" Texas Ranger badges being offered for sale today. It's not only a lasting design, it's a popular one, too. But at The Badge Company of New Jersey we do not deal in reproductions, nor do we sell to collectors.

You can learn more about the Texas Rangers, their badges, and even the origin of the nickname "The Lone Star State" at http://www.texasranger.org/history/HistoricBadges.htm

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The tombstone was inscribed, "I Had the Right-of-Way"

It’s one week until Christmas and there is plenty of traffic, on the streets, on the sidewalks, and in the crosswalks. Who wins in a confrontation between a pedestrian and a car? That’s easy – the car.

In New Jersey there is a law that says that all motorists must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Similar laws are on the books in other states and cities. But police will tell you that the compliance with this law is disappointingly low, which is part of why, during 2008, a program called "Cops in the Crosswalks" was undertaken.

Blow through a crosswalk that has a pedestrian in it, and you may discover that the pedestrian is an undercover cop who will arrange for you to receive a summons. The easiest way to avoid such a citation is to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Stopping for pedestrians has another benefit for motorists: By stopping for pedestrians you are far less likely to hit one.

Still, when car and pedestrian meet, the pedestrian always gets the short end of the stick, often fatally. So it amazes us when we see pedestrians blithely walk in front of approaching cars, confident that those cars are being driven by alert, law-abiding motorists. Are these pedestrians nuts?

For all they know, the approaching car is being driven by someone who is drunk, texting, or just plain inattentive. The law may say that the motorist must stop, but the laws of physics say that if the motorist does not stop, the pedestrian loses. Every time. The pedestrian weighs 100 or 200 pounds and is made of flesh and bone. The car weighs 3000 or 5000 pounds and is made of steel.

When walking, do not cross in front of approaching traffic until you KNOW that the traffic is going to stop. Better yet, do not cross in front of approaching traffic until the traffic HAS stopped.

When driving, yield to pedestrians.

Slow down and enjoy the Holiday season.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Long Branch Fun Coordinator

Taking some time to visit with Sue Marlow at The Badge Company display during the recent New Jersey League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City was Barry Stein, the Assistant Director for Industrial and Economic Development for the City of Long Branch. But Mr Stein has a second title with the city: Special Events Coordinator. It might be the city's best job.

Because Long Branch is an oceanfront town, it plays host to a wide array of outdoor concerts, festivals, and events. Mr Stein's job is to oversee everything from classic car "Cruise Nights" to a summer-long Blues & Jazz Festival. We were not familiar with the details of the job, but Mr Stein clearly enjoys it. He smiles broadly as he relates facts about shows and concerts.

Actually, the entire contingent from Long Branch was smiling widely during the NJLM conference. From Purchasing Agent Carol Mellaci to Community & Economic Development Director Jacob Jones, the representatives from Long Branch were enthusiastically promoting their city.

The next time you are contemplating a trip "down the shore," consider Long Branch as your destination. You will find plenty of information on the city's web site, http://www.visitlongbranch.com/, and if you are not already aware of it, New Jersey's Atlantic beaches are among the nicest beaches anywhere. Oh, and while you're there, take a glance at the badges on their public safety personnel.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Goodbye to Ray's

Ray's Sport Shop is closing. You might think that we're happy about this, since Ray's has been a competitor of ours in the law enforcement market, but we're not. Ray's has always been what we call "a worthy competitor," a business based on good products and good customer service.

The proof is in the longevity of the business: Ray's was founded by Ray Lueddeke more than 60 years ago. Ray's Sport Shop was already more than 25 years old when The Badge Company of New Jersey was launched in 1974.

More remarkable than the longevity of the business, however, is the longevity of the owner. Ray's Sport Shop is closing because Ray Lueddeke is now over 90 years old. "I've gotta slow down" he said.

Ray's location on Route 22 in North Plainfield is known to generations of New Jersey drivers, whether or not they shopped there.

While we will be happy to assist Ray's loyal customers with their needs for badges and other public safety products, we cannot begin to fill the gap in all the other markets Ray served. Think of an independent, family-run neighborhood gun or uniform shop blended with Dick's or Cabela's, and you begin to get a greater understanding of the depth and breadth of Ray's Sport Shop.

We can only wish that Ray enjoys a long and happy retirement. He's earned it!