Promoting and Supporting Your Important Cause

Earby Markham

This past October marked the annual observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since 1985, this month has been dedicated to educating the public and promoting the screening and prevention of breast cancer.

If you mention police charities or fundraising to members of your community, you’ll probably hear moans and groans along with stories of telemarketers who persistently call during dinnertime. Some may talk about the abuses of using telemarketing groups as the means to request donations in support of the first responder communities and just how little of the donated money actually makes it to the cause (and how most of it goes to paying the expenses of the telemarketing agencies involved). Add to that the number of investigations and convictions which came out of those situations over the years. At least, that is my recollection as an LEO in the 1980s and 1990s.

But, times have changed. Now, departments are actively involved in raising funds for global public causes, such as breast cancer, autism, and mental health awareness, just to name a few, and it’s through a much different approach than what was used in the past. I started in law enforcement in the 80s and, at that time, being neutral on all issues was the default setting for most departments. Today, partnering with your local community to fundraise for issues of a national or global concern seems much more inclusive and more in alignment with the times. Law enforcement agencies, primarily at the municipal and county levels, are selling specially manufactured items such as badges, patches and challenge coins with special designs or colors which coordinate with the charity being supported. The sales may be departmental only or through departmental personnel and the public. In the case of a potentially problematic item, such as a memorial or awareness badge, the version available for the public should be marked for a “supporter” and not given a police rank in order to decrease the opportunity for misuse/misrepresentation.

To get an idea of how the use of highly visible causes for fundraising is being received, I spoke with the leaders of departments ranging in size from 28 to over 1200 sworn personnel, as well as some of the companies which manufacture the items these departments make available to support their causes. One prevalent sentiment which I found very encouraging is that everyone I spoke to exuded a sense of enthusiasm and pride about the partnerships formed with the community and the sense of accomplishment the donations give.

Spanish Fort Police Department

My first conversation was with Chief John Barber of the Spanish Fort (AL) Police Department (SFPD). With 28 sworn personnel, Spanish Fort represents one of the fastest growing areas in the state of Alabama and it’s an ideal area to obtain a snapshot of some of the fundraising activities in which smaller departments are becoming involved. Chief Barber said SFPD supports several of the awareness campaigns throughout the year such as childhood cancer awareness and No-Shave November. However, the money from No-Shave November is kept by the department and used for hardship cases in the community around the Christmas holiday. The Chief related that the city has been very supportive of the department’s fundraising and that it’s been regarded as a very positive public relations effort.

City of Mobile

I next spoke with the Public Safety Executive Director for the City of Mobile (AL), Lawrence Battiste. Director Battiste also served as the Chief of Police for Mobile and can speak firsthand about the activities of the department. Director Battiste is a dedicated supporter of fundraising for important causes and noted that, during his tenure as chief, the department worked to support multiple causes through patch and T-shirt sales. Regrettably, the pandemic reduced those efforts; however, they have come back online with sales of their pink breast cancer awareness patch. Earlier this year, they achieved gratifying success by selling out of their autism awareness patches. Interestingly, he noted that, when a cause was chosen for support, it often originated as a request from someone associated with the department who had been personally impacted by that cause.

The Pink Patch Project (PPP)

The Pink Patch Project is a public awareness campaign to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer and to support breast cancer research organizations in combating this devastating disease.

The Project is a collaborative effort between the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association and public safety agencies in Los Angeles County and beyond. These agencies partnered together to combat breast cancer by raising public awareness about the importance of early detection in the fight against the disease and to raise funds for breast cancer research and treatment.

The origins of the PPP began in 2013 with the Seal Beach Police Department in Southern California who wore pink patches on their uniforms during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In 2015, the Irwindale, CA, Police Department took the idea a step further and sold their patches to the community, raising over $20,000 for one of the nation’s largest cancer centers, the City of Hope.

In 2016, then Chief Anthony Miranda took the idea to the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association and 25 local agencies came onboard. Today, the program has expanded to several hundred partner agencies throughout the world and includes partners from police, sheriff, fire, EMS, and federal departments worldwide.

The program centers on vibrant pink versions of the public safety employees’ uniform patch. These bright patches have been specially designed by each participating agency specifically for their PPP participation. Public safety employees at each of the participating agencies wear their pink patches on their regular duty uniforms each year for the entire month of October during “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

The pink patches are intended to stimulate conversation with the community and to encourage public awareness about the importance of early detection and the on-going fight against this disease.

As of when this article was written, the PPP has sold over 900,000 patches, raising over $1,655,000 for the cause, with 756 agencies becoming involved. It should be noted that three of the biggest supporters of the Pink Patch Project are The Emblem Authority, Condor Outdoor and the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs’ Association.

V.H. Blackinton

Did you ever wonder where pink badges originated? Starting in 2012, V.H. Blackinton & Co. developed a process which allows badges to have a pink finish applied. Specifically, Unlimited Coloring technology enables the folks at Blackinton to incorporate color on a metal badge without disrupting the detail in the metal. Previously, adding color to a metal badge was limited to finishing an entire surface or adding color within the metal walls of a badge. However, with their proprietary technology, unique colors and designs can be added to public safety awareness badges without the need for a new die.

Sharyn Dunn, the Marketing Manager at Blackinton, stated that they did this because of the growing number of agencies they saw every October with pink cars and pink shirts for fundraising, so they decided to try a pink badge. With that, the Breast Cancer Badge Program came about. Since launching the program in 2012, $30,000 has been donated to charity.

In addition to Blackinton, I spoke with representatives of some of the other manufacturers to learn what their experiences have been with charity fundraising.

Smith and Warren

Smith & Warren first partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation back in 2016 to help support those affected by breast cancer.

In 2021 alone, S&W donated over $15,000 to the NBCF and they continue to donate 10% of their proceeds from all of their PINK badge sales to this worthwhile organization to help continue its truly life-saving programs. In total, Smith & Warren has donated over $75,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. With other efforts, they raised over $35,000 for the 9/11 Tunnel to Towers Foundation; over $25,000 for the First Responders Children’s Foundation; over $20,000 for Autism Speaks and thousands more for other charities. 

Smith and Warren offers a variety of awareness badges through a custom service called VisualBadge.

Lee Galperin at Smith & Warren badges was a great source of information about what law enforcement has done with charity fundraising through the sale of commemorative badges, challenge coins, etc. It was through Lee Galperin that I met Lt. Roberto Valdes with the Miami, FL, Police Department which is deeply involved in special cause fundraising. They use unique badges as a part of a larger strategy which incorporates public announcements and rollouts of the new fundraising projects. Miami PD’s efforts also include specially wrapped vehicles as an extension of their fundraising. This elevates the visibility of their program and enhances their public relations benefits. Lt. Valdes also pointed out that he’s had the good fortune to work with others in the department who have been directly affected by the difficulties which these charities strive to support. Doing so has brought a feeling of personal ownership to their charity work. Additionally, these efforts have resulted in some considerable donations: 2020 Autism Speaks, $7520; 2020 Armed Forces Appreciation, $3585; 2022 Childhood Cancer Awareness, $5280 – just to name a few.

Sun Badge Company

Ben Dawson with Sun Badge Company is another enthusiastic supporter of the way law enforcement has incorporated special run badges for specific causes into their fundraising efforts. He advised that Sun Badge has many departmental customers who offer different anniversary or in remembrance badges to their officers knowing that a percentage of the purchase price is donated to law enforcement entities such as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.


SymbolArts has designed a special Hurricane Ian Awareness Badge in support of the first responders providing on-scene aid to the impacted communities. Half of the proceeds of these unique badges will be donated to the relief fund “Heroes Helping Heroes Rebuild” put forth by the Florida Sheriffs Association. Funds will be used to provide immediate financial support to those officers whose homes and families were displaced due to the hurricane. SymbolArts has stated that they are “grateful for this collaboration and opportunity to support these officers facing great difficulty as they continue to serve their local neighborhoods amid disaster.” Preorders are currently being accepted and these badges will begin shipping mid to late December.

When I first spoke with the publisher of Police and Security News, I defined what I was trying to describe as “silent activism” since pink or blue badges are almost self-explanatory. Perhaps “silent advocacy” would have been a more accurate description, yet it’s much more than that. A common theme which came up in nearly every conversation I had was about humanizing the badge and the officer – and how the unique badges and patches allow citizens to comfortably initiate a conversation with them – either with a question or by expressing solidarity, as many families have been touched by hardships such as breast cancer and autism.

Additional Manufacturers…

There are a number of police equipment manufacturers who have also done much to help support and raise awareness of various causes. One popular example is Setina Mfg. who, back in 2015, began providing pink push bumpers and bumper wraps for police cruisers as a means to support the annual Go Pink! campaign.

Another example is Strong Leather Co. who first began providing recessed Pink Badge Holders for attaching your shield to your belt or wearing around your neck (with a custom-made pink chain).

In 2021, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) announced that it would be arresting people using pink handcuffs to raise awareness for breast cancer, according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

“Pink badges and pink handcuffs, all meant to grab your attention as we raise awareness and pray for a cure to end Breast Cancer!” Villanueva tweeted, stating that due to the coronavirus pandemic, “many women have put off mammograms and other cancer screenings.”

One of the biggest suppliers of pink handcuffs in the US is Peerless Handcuff Company which was founded in Springfield, MA, in 1914.

We all agree that law enforcement has been under attack on many fronts for the last several years. From the BLM/Antifa protests and riots and the renewed calls for defunding the police to the physical, mental and emotional stress which were a part of the pandemic, law enforcement as a whole has suffered greatly in many ways. I believe the programs which support various charities through local action not only provide funding to these important causes, but doing so can also help bring communities and law enforcement officers together while working to achieve a short-term goal which can create long-term improvements. The end result is that these efforts are not only greatly improving morale within the department, but the charities benefit from the donations; the department benefits with positive public relations; and the community benefits with improved relations with the department through networking. I believe that qualifies as a win/win.

For more information, contact:

  1. Chief John Barber –
  2. Executive Director Lawrence Battiste –   
  3. Lieutenant Roberto E. Valdes –
  4. Florida Sheriffs Association Information/Donation Page –
  5. Amy McDaniel, El Segundo Police Department –
  6. V.H. Blackinton & Co. –
  7. Smith & Warren –
  8. Sun Badge Company –
  9. SymbolArts –

Earby Markham began his career in the public sector with the Mobile, AL, Police Department before moving into a series of positions in the private sector managing the security for large facilities in several key sectors of Critical Infrastructure. He wrote for P&SN multiple times in the 1990s and, with this article, officially ends a hiatus of 20+ years.