Since the Vallejo Police Department has been dogged by scandals for the better part of a decade now, the department is reportedly considering a rebrand with new badges — badges that can’t be bent to celebrate fatal police shootings.
The beleaguered Vallejo Police Department is back in the news, and as usual, not in a good way. The new Netflix documentary American Nightmare reexamines the 2015 kidnapping of Denise Huskins, wherein the Vallejo PD accused Huskins of faking her own kidnapping. The department was soon proven wrong on that by the FBI, and it came out that the Vallejo PD botched Huskins’ sexual assault investigation as well, and the police may have even withheld evidence in the matter.
For a generation, a secretive clique within @VallejoPD has commemorated fatal shootings with beers, backyard barbecues, and by bending the points of their badges each time they kill in the line of duty, a monthslong investigation by Open Vallejo has found. https://t.co/GGfYrPynDY— Open Vallejo (@OpenVallejo) July 29, 2020
One of their more stomach-churning shooting scandals was revealed in a July 2020 report from the independent news site Open Vallejo. That site reported that Vallejo police officers had a habit of celebrating their fatal police shootings of suspects by bending the corners of their star-shaped badges. That outlet also reported that officers celebrated killing people in the line if duty with “beers [and] backyard barbecues.”
BREAKING: Vallejo police have been quietly working on a public relations overhaul that would include new patches, a new name, and badges that are harder to deface when officers kill civilians, Open Vallejo has learned. https://t.co/YHQB8ef8Nr— Open Vallejo (@OpenVallejo) January 27, 2024
Well, several police shooting scandals later, Open Vallejo now reports that the department is considering a rebrand to clean up its tarnished image, and may choose to call itself the “Vallejo Police Services Department.” Open Vallejo also reports that the rebrand “may involve the costly replacement or modification of officers’ uniforms, embroidered patches, patrol vehicles, letterhead, merchandise, and even the signs posted on police headquarters at 111 Amador St.”
But most curiously, Open Vallejo also reports that the department is also considering new badges whose corners can’t be bent, because the new badge would be shaped like a shield instead of a star.
Parenthetically, the only officer who was ever disciplined in the badge-bending matter was the whistleblower on the scandal, then-Vallejo PD captain John Whitney. Whitney says he was fired for speaking up, a claim that seems validated after the City of Vallejo gave him a $900,000 settlement this past September.
The badge-bending case was never technically resolved. While it was proven that some officers did have bent badges, then-Vallejo police chief Andrew Bidou ordered those badges returned to the officers, because “he was concerned the cost of replacing the badges would raise suspicion.”
Which begs the question… what do Vallejo police badges cost, anyway? Open Vallejo searched through invoices, and found that “a standard-issue, sterling silver officer badge costs the department roughly $300, and the 10-carat gold badges worn by Vallejo’s command staff can cost $650 or more.”
And apparently, the city may be springing for another new batch of those badges for the whole force.