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The Benton Police Department has a new badge that is currently being issued to all officers.
According to Lt. Kevin Russell, public information officer for the department, it was decided in the spring to start working on a new badge design to replace the generic shields that had been in use for decades.
The new design, unveiled Monday, features the Saline County Courthouse, which Russell said is "one of the most iconic and long-standing symbols in the area."
The city of Benton was incorporated in 1837 and the courthouse was built in 1902 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
According to Russell, the first police badges depicted the coat of arms worn by knights, which identified the knight and his allegiance to justice and chivalry. Like police officers, Russell said, knights from the medieval era were often sworn in and asked to protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all.
He noted that officers wear their badges on their uniforms above the left chest pocket for two reasons: First, to be worn over the heart to remind them of their pledge to protect; and second, because the left arm was the arm that often held the coat of arms shield of the knights.
Russell said this new badge will help to instill a sense of pride in the community, saying, "The badge serves not only as a symbol of the city of Benton, but also hearkens back to the past history of our area."
The badges were paid for entirely with drug-seized money, according to Russell. All Benton officers will receive the new badges to wear as a part of their uniforms.