Even before he was appointed as police chief, Lester Jenkins thought the Oakdale Police Department needed a design change to its uniform shoulder patch.
“When we wear the tan (uniforms), there was a lot of confusion with CHP,” Jenkins said.
The chief added that the department’s existing patch with its State seal and royal blue background has been used for over 40 years. The patch mirrors several other police agencies, which pattern their patch after the CHP.
“This was something I was looking forward to doing,” Jenkins said. “Getting a patch more unique and reflective of our western heritage.”
Jenkins said the design of the new shoulder patch was a collaborative effort between members of the department.
With Sergeant Brian Shimmel and Lieutenant Keri Redd helping design the patch, finishing touches were added by Administrative Assistant Julie Christel.
Jenkins recently presented the new patch, which has a darker blue field than the existing patch. The center seal consists of a rodeo cowboy on a green field with a blue river. In the background are sun rays through mountains.
The department will also have the same patch in subdued black-white-grey design for officers wearing the black tactical uniform.
Jenkins said the new shoulder patch is very representative of Oakdale, now showing the cowboy to symbolize the annual rodeo and motto of “Cowboy Capital of the World.” The green field signifies agriculture in the area and the river to represent the Stanislaus River that goes through the city.
Jenkins said the image is very close to the department’s challenge coins that were distributed three years ago.
Challenge coins are a small coin/medallion bearing the organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by its members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership and to enhance morale. In practice, challenge coins are normally presented by department leaders in recognition of special achievement by a member. They are also exchanged by members when on official visits to another agency.
In addition to the patch, the department also will be switching its badge design.
Currently members wear a gold plated eagle topped police shield with the state symbol. That badge will be replaced by a gold star-in-circle design with the same rodeo cowboy-mountain background center seal as the shoulder patch.
“Officers will have the option to purchase their old badge,” Jenkins said.
Badges are currently being distributed and members of the department will have until mid-February to convert their uniforms to the new patch.