KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thanks to a FOX4 viewer, the Kansas City Police Department is one step closer to cracking the mystery of the badge “case.”
The Kansas City Police Department does not have officers or detectives assigned to the “case” of the badge mystery. All the members of the Historical Society use their personal time to investigate when they can, but when the mystery of the badge came about they knew they needed help from the community.
That’s when FOX4 viewer, Tony Herrman, stepped up to the challenge. As a former Independence police crime lab tech and police dispatcher, he thought he could help KCPD after he read the article about the “Mystery behind the KCPD Badge.”
Herrman, a volunteer with the Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC) and self-proclaimed “history buff” thought that there may be some information available in the pages of old KC Star and Times newspapers that the MGC keeps within their collections. He was right and within about 20 minutes of searching, he found the first of several articles about the KCPD dating back to 1939.
Only one article however talks about the designing of the badge. In a short two-paragraph article dated July 25, 1939 it stated that Chief L.B. Reed had commissioned a “committee of policemen” to design a new “shield” and that the badges that officers were currently wearing would be void. That same article also stated that “many persons not on the force apparently have badges now, and that the new shields would put an end to such unauthorized credentials”.
Those unauthorized badges were the topic of another article. This one dated Feb. 25, 1940. This article talks about how former Director of KCPD, Otto P. Higgins, distributed KCPD badges to 311 individuals with “honorary police authority”. Individuals like actress Lupe Valez, and other city leaders received these badges and could wear them and enforce laws.
Capt. Christopher Sicoli with the KCPD Historical Society was thrilled with the discovery.
“That someone would take the time to help us find part of our history is fantastic,” Sicoli told FOX4. “His (Herrman’s) discovery of an article about 311 badges having been handed out to civilians, that’s something we never knew. It’s a wealth of information that he discovered. Just the fact that one of the articles said that they handed out badges alphabetically and not numerically was something we didn’t know.”
Capt. Sicoli went on to say that they hope some families in the area find some of the “civilian” badges and loan them to the department for display.
“We hope that a family runs across a police badge in their attic or basement and wonder why their loved one had one. If they do find a badge we hope that they would be willing to loan it to our department for display…it’s a part of our history, we didn’t even know about,” he added.
One of the more interesting articles discovered talked about Former Director Otto Higgins and how he was serving a two-year sentence in Leavenworth Prison. However, the reason for that sentence was not explained.
The KCPD is still looking for more information about their department before 1939. If you have information, documents or even come across an old police badge please contact FOX4 or the KCPD Historical Society at (816) 889-6095 or message them on Facebook.