Dates to the Early 1900s

By Patrick Cronin

Seacoast Sunday, October 10, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Seacoast Sunday and Seacoast Online.]


Hampton officers in a 1915 photo wear the same badge type, right, recently given to the town’s police department. The historic value is important to Chief Jamie Sullivan and officers. They are looking for any information about the badge or other details of earlier times.

HAMPTON — An old Hampton police badge dating to at least the early 1900s has made its way back to the department as a California man who donated it said he wanted it “to go back to where it belongs.”

Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said the department was given the badge last week as a gift by Keith D. Bushey, a retired Los Angeles police officer.

“It was just a generous gift,” Sullivan said. “You can’t help but think about what that badge saw back in the day in Hampton. It’s a wonderful artifact.”

Sullivan said Bushey was in town two weeks ago teaching an FBI Leader class at the department. An avid badge collector, Bushey told police he had an old Hampton police badge that he purchased at an antique shop in Portsmouth.

“As he talked about it and described it, I remembered seeing that badge once before,” Sullivan said.

The chief said the badge is the same type that appear in a photo from the early 1900s of Hampton officers taken during “Carnival Week” at Hampton Beach. Officers also sported the same badge in an 1915 photo of the department’s squad and Chief Robert Tolman.

“We sent him this photograph and as we discussed it more he made an incredible generous offer to donate it to us,” Sullivan said, adding it was donated on three conditions. One is that they have some of the officers take turns wearing it on duty for a week, which they are doing now, and the other was that when the week was up, it be displayed so the public can see it.

“The last condition is that he has visitation rights,” Sullivan said. “So whenever he is out here, he gets to come down and touch the badge.”

Sullivan said they are researching the tin badge — with the word “Hampton” and the number “1” printed on it — and would like to know to whom it belonged. “We don’t know if all the badges were numbered back in the day and we can’t tell from these photographs,” Sullivan said.

The only time he saw a similar badge was at the funeral of “The Singing Cop,” Bill Elliot, who worked for the department as a part-time officer in the 1930s.

Bushey, who collects police badges from all over the country, told police he believes it dates to 1890. He said the type of badge became popular in the nation during that time.

Officer Tim Galvin said he wore the badge on duty Tuesday and the public did take notice. “Everybody wanted to know about the badge,” he said. “I was shocked. I didn’t think people would even notice it.”

Galvin said wearing the badge brought some emotion. “I kept thinking about the badge, who owned it and what has it seen,” he said. “When I went home that night, I tried to look up and find more information on it. It kind of draws you in.”

In the early 1900s, there were only four officers with the department and according to old town reports they were paid per arrests.

Sullivan said they will put the badge in a display case in the station’s lobby with other Hampton police memorabilia.

“We would love to know more about it,” Sullivan said. “It’s important to us to honor that history.”

“You can’t help but think about what that badge saw back in the day in Hampton.”

Chief Jamie Sullivan

Hampton Police Department


Hampton Police Officer, Jim Patton, wears a Hampton Police badge from the late 1800s/early 1900s after the department was given it from a collector. The badge will be worn by officers for a short time and then put in a case at the police station for viewing.
[Deb Cram Photo]

Donated badge from late 1800s/early 1900s