NEW BERN, N.C. – “Although the change is small, the impact is huge.” That’s how Police Chief Patrick Gallagher describes the subtle change he’s making to department uniforms.
Chief Gallagher sent an email to New Bern Police Department employees in June. He had an idea and wanted their feedback. The idea was to modify the police department uniform by adding a pin denoting military service. Sworn staff already wear an American flag pin below their badge, but the new one would feature a flag of the military branch in which they served, identifying military veterans within the department. The pin would also be offered to non-sworn staff who are veterans.
“The email was met with tremendous support,” said Chief Gallagher. “Although to be honest, I was not surprised. Not only do we have all 5 branches of the military represented within our ranks, but one of the first things I noticed and admired about New Bern as a whole was its relationship with and support of the military.”
Eastern North Carolina has a long history of military friendliness given the large footprint of military installations in the region, stretching from Air Station Elizabeth City to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (north to south) and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (west to east). According to the NC Demographer, more than 736,000 veterans live in North Carolina, representing nearly 10% of the state population. These veterans represent members of the Greatest Generation – those who served during World War II – to the latest generation, who have or are currently serving in the Middle East and all over the world.
The New Bern Police Department also has a long history of military friendliness, working closely with military partners to provide key services to veterans and their families regarding public safety and also as a partner in service delivery and problem-solving. The New Bern PD has heavily recruited from the veteran community over the years since, oftentimes, veterans trade national service for service in their respective communities.
“The pin not only recognizes and honors their service, but it also provides a visual representation to help connect our officers to veterans in the community when they encounter them,” said Chief Gallagher.
In 2018, the New Bern Police Department created the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) to help provide better services to those suffering a mental health crisis. Part of the CIT program involves visible uniform pins issued to and worn by officers who have completed the 40-hour training course so that those suffering a mental health crisis can connect to officers. A number of those in crisis in our area are military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other issues as a result of war and service around the world. New Bern PD officers who are veterans are better equipped to connect to fellow veterans in times of crisis, and similar to the CIT pins, the military service pin is designed to help a veteran in crisis connect with a fellow veteran. The service pin will be worn on every New Bern PD class A uniform for those who choose to wear it.
“We often thank military veterans for their service,” said Chief Gallagher. “And in many communities that extends to the men and women who serve in public safety agencies. We hope these pins will serve the needs and interest of our military community but also provide deserving praise to police employees who have worn or are still wearing one of our nation’s uniforms.”