What Is a Police Coin? Here’s Everything You Need to Know!

Do you want to learn more about what a police coin is?

When we say police coin, what image enters your mind? If you thought about a special coin given to uniformed officers, you’re correct. 

However, a police coin is more than a fancy penny. It’s also more than a symbol of honor and excellent service. To learn more about police coins and what they are, keep reading.

1. What Is a Police Coin?

Among US professions, law enforcement is one of the most trusted professions, a study says. While you see a lot of controversy over police shootings, 54% of Americans still trust local law enforcement. Policemen and women put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect.

There aren’t as many organizations and charities formed to give aid to police officers.

You may know of Veterans Awareness Day, which is on November 11. Yet, do you know what month National Law Enforcing Appreciation Day is on? What are the different ways you can think of to thank your local law enforcement? 

Like military personnel do, police officers also have challenge coins dedicated to them. If you don’t know, challenge coins are small coins or medallions given to service members. Police coins have specific coins for the men and women in blue as appreciation for their service. 

Often, challenge coins come in various sizes, metals, and designs. The typical police coin can be 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. While most coins take the typical circular shapes, some come in shapes like shields or dog tags.

Most coins bear an insignia of the unit or squad. Others may even have a motto or the core values of the organization engraved in them. Challenge coin manufacturers often offer various coin designs that can get customized further.

2. Role of Police Challenge Coins 

As we said, a police coin is a small coin or medallion given to police officers. It’s common for police coins to bear a symbol related to the law enforcement group. For example, coins for a Sherriff’s department may have a star design typical to sheriff badges.

These coins exist to do more than exclusive ornaments for members of a police department. When a police officer gets presented a police coin, it’s often given to commend and honor them. It’s to thank them for their excellence in the line of duty.

Like in the military, it also works to bring a unit together and to give the members a sense of belonging. For example, a unit may receive coins after they finished a project or aided in an important event. Receiving the coins is something they can bond over.

The way challenge coins get distributed is also quite interesting. Often, challenge coins get distributed to deserving officers through a handshake. Unlike medals, recipients don’t have to appear on-stage or attend a ceremony. 

The officers receive a police coin holder much later and after they receive the coin. In most cases now, recipients receive this symbol of honor during days of import.

For example, a commander may offer one to officers who passed the lieutenant’s exam. Another example is when a senior officer hands police coins out to squad members who showed excellence during a crisis. Civilians can also give local law enforcement challenge coins to show appreciation.

3. History of Police Challenge Coins 

Before receiving challenge coins reached law enforcement, it was a military custom. Long before that, there are various stories on how challenge coins came to be. Yet, no one is sure how the challenge coin became so popular.

One of the stories often told about challenge coins goes back to the Vietnam War. At the time, members of a unit carried unused bullets as rewards for surviving a mission. It turned out to be a fatal memento for the members of the bullet clubs.

At first, instead of surrender, they’d use the unused bullet for themselves if defeat was imminent. After a time, the unused bullets evolved and men began to carry bigger rounds. Their goal became to one-up each other in a show of machismo. 

It became tasteless when drunken soldiers began to challenge each other in bars. Part of the challenge was to slam live ammunition on the table. To avoid unwarranted accidents, command banned the bullets and replaced them with special coins instead.

Another story about challenge coins takes place in Ancient Rome. Enlisted soldiers received their pay daily. When he showed exceptional valor in battle, he’ll receive an extra coin. 

Some say that the extra coin got minted with a special mark of the legion. This led to some men holding onto their coins rather than spend them. Thus, the act of collecting special coins among military members began.

4. Where to Get Police Challenge Coins

Do you want to know where you can order custom a police challenge coin? You can check online and Google police coins for sale. Many online challenge coin manufacturers offer pre-made designs and custom designs.

Depending on the manufacturer, you may choose the material, finish, and size of the challenge coin. You can also present your design to the manufacturer. For example, a computer crime squad may get challenge coins with a microchip design at the back.

Most manufacturers sell them in bulk. If you plan to give a police coin to your father or partner as a way of appreciating their work, you can order one coin. Note that ordering by bulk will be cheaper than placing an order for one challenge coin. 

Challenge Coins for the People in Blue

That’s it for our guide on challenge coins for police officers. 

Presenting a police coin to your local law enforcement is a great way of saying thank you to them. Remember, the practice of giving challenge coins isn’t exclusive to cops or service members only. It’ll even be a pleasant surprise since few officers expect civilians to know the custom.

We hope you learned a lot about police coins today. If you liked this guide on challenge coins, check out our other posts too.