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Cap Device

by Jim Doherty

About the Author: JIM DOHERTY, currently a police chief in a small Midwestern town, has served American law enforcement at the local, state, a federal levels, policing everything from college campuses to military bases, from inner city streets to rural dirt roads, from urban railroad yards to suburban parks. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he moved to Chicago after graduation from UC Berkeley, where he met his lovely wife, Katy. He is the author of JUST THE FACTS - TRUE TALES OF COPS & CRIMINALS,


He was wearing a blue uniform, just like mine, and pinned to that blue uniform was a smooth, sterling silver, seven-point star, just like mine. The word “POLICE” in an arc just above the bottom point. The number “90210” in the center. That struck me as one he’d have no trouble remembering, since it’s firmly imbedded in the pop culture consciousness as the zip code of Beverly Hills.

The name of the city was in an arc just below the top two points, just like mine. But where mine read “BERKELEY,” his read “SAN FRANCISCO.”

The seven-point star is not an unheard of badge design in the US, but it’s not especially common, either. Here in the Bay Area, though, it’s the standard, and San Francisco PD’s the main reason why. They adopted that design back in 1849. I’ve heard several reasons why. One is that, SFPD being predominantly Catholic in those days, the badge was symbolic of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit conferred during Confirmation. Another is that, since San Francisco, like Rome, has seven hills, each point represented one of those hills, Telegraph, Nob, Russian, Rincon, Mount Davidson, Mount Sutro, and the Twin Peaks. Of course, that’s actually eight, counting the Twin Peaks as two, and anyone who’s familiar with The City knows those aren’t the only hills. But, for whatever reason, the others, like Cathedral, Presidio, Castro, Lone Mountain, and dozens of others that aren’t even named, aren’t counted.

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