North Smithfield, R. I., Police

Photo taken outside old police station in 1983.

Click on image to enlarge.


Lincoln, R. I., Police Department

Click on image to enlarge. 

Lincoln, R. I., Police Car

Photo taken at Lincooln Woods in 1983.

Little Compton Police

Click on image to enlarge.

Little Compton, R. I., Police – 1983
Photo by Jim Ignasher

Glocester, R. I. Police

Click on image to enlarge.

Glocester Police – 1983
Photo by Jim Ignasher

Relics of Smithfield’s Police History Are rescued Just In Time

Originally published in the Smithfield Times magazine, May, 2020.

Relics of Smithfield’s Police History Are Rescued Just In Time

By Jim Ignasher

     May 10 -16 is Notional Police Week.  Thank you to all law enforcement officers, especially in these trying times. 

A 1972 Smithfield, R. I. police car as it was found in March of 2020 in West Greenwich, R. I.

     Police patrol cars have fairly short careers due to the type of driving they endure and the amount of miles they accumulate, and when a car is “retired” it’s usually stripped of markings and equipment before being sent to one of two places; a car dealership for resale where it enters “civilian life”, or a salvage yard where it’s cannibalized for parts before eventually being hauled off to the crusher. This is why the recent find of a 1971 Smithfield police cruiser sitting on a rural property in West Greenwich is so unusual.         

     There are those who enjoy restoring and owning vintage automobiles, and within the last thirty years some antique car enthusiasts have established specialized clubs dedicated to restoring and preserving antique police cars.  It was a member of one of these clubs who contacted Bob VanNieuwenhuyze, (pronounced Van-new-enheiz), a retired Deputy Chief of the Smithfield Police Department, about a rumor concerning an old Smithfield police cruiser that might hold certain possibilities.   

     Bob enjoys antique vehicles, and owns a fully restored1972 Dodge, Polara, so when he heard that an original antique patrol car from his department might be for sale he had to investigate.

     On a day in early March of this year, he and a friend traveled to West Greenwich and spoke to an elderly man about the possibility of an old police car being on his property.  Sure enough, the rumor was true.  Sitting in an area thick with brush, was a 1971 Ford, Custom 500, with a large emblem on the door which in bold letters read “Smithfield Police”.       

The passenger side door after being rescued and cleaned.

     The car had a black and white color scheme, which hasn’t been used by the department since the early 1970s.  It was, by all indications, the oldest surviving Smithfield police car in existence, and perhaps one of the oldest surviving police cars in the state.  If it could talk, imagine the stories it could tell about the calls it had responded to. It had patrolled in a time when the town’s population was half of what it is today; when Richard Nixon was president; the Vietnam War was raging; and before Route 295 was completed and turned Smithfield into a bedroom community. 

     The car had a numeral 6 on the front fender, indicating that the police department had at least six cruisers at the time.

     Bob had hoped it could once again cruise the streets of Smithfield, but unfortunately it was well beyond restoration, for it appeared the car had been sitting on the same spot for forty-plus years, and the bottom had completely rusted away due to sitting on the ground for so long. 

     And over the years the car had become a dumpster for rusted auto parts.  Furthermore the windows, windshield, and driver’s side door were gone, thus allowing the weather and wildlife to take a toll on the interior. 

    The back of the car was pushed inward indicating that at some point it had been hit from behind, which could be the reason it was retired from service.  In any case, at some point it had been sold for scrap and wound up in West Greenwich.   

     Bob was told it was fortunate that he’d come when he did, for the car had been scheduled to be removed and sent to a crusher a week earlier, but there’d been an unexpected delay.  After some discussion with the property owner, Bob managed to acquire the passenger side door with its vintage Smithfield police emblem, and the trunk lid, with the word “police” across the back.  Shortly after their removal, the once proud cruiser was sent to be scrapped and recycled to one day come back in another incarnation, perhaps, if Fate allows it, as another police car, and hopefully not as a kitchen appliance. 

     Bob has been able to do some research on the car and has discovered that the department had three 1971 Fords in its fleet, and based on a metal emblem on the trunk, this particular one came from the former Notarantonio Ford dealership in North Providence.   

     Bob has since cleaned and polished the door and trunk lid, and plans to use them as wall art in his “man-cave”.  Perhaps one has to be interested in police history to understand the significance of these relics, for they are two of the most interesting and unusual pieces of Smithfield Police memorabilia to be found anywhere, and Bob is glad to have rescued them.    


Smithfield R.I. Police Badges

     Click on images to enlarge.

Worn By Sayles Williams.

     The eagle-top badge below was found by a man digging for bottles along the Blackstone River in Lincoln, R.I., in early 2020.   No further information is known about it at this time, but the present owner is conducting research. 

Worn prior to 1976

Current badges have the title of “Police Officer”

The emblem in the center is the police station before renovations.

Possibly a prototype.
In a private collection in Massachusetts.

Smithfield Bridewells – 1913

Smithfield Bridewells, aka Jails – 1913

     The following images were taken from Smithfield Town Council records dated April 3, 1913 concerning the location and maintenance of Smithfield’s “bridewells”, also known as jails, and the duties of Smithfield police officers.  

Click on images to enlarge. 

The Olneyville Times
November 27, 1891

Smithfield Police Ordinance – 1937

     An town ordinance relating to the Smithfield Police Department was passed on May 28, 1937 establishing the structure, pay, appointments, and duties of police officers.  It is copied here from Council Record Book #9, pages 18 – 23.   

To view PDF file of 1937 ordinance, click on link below.

Staples Scan 11-19-2019_10-09-33-016

     Below is a copy of the Smithfield Police Ordinance adopted April 3, 1913.  It was repealed with the passage of the 1937 ordinance.

Click on images to enlarge.


Early Rhode Island Municipal Police Insignia

Early Rhode Island Municipal Police Insignia

With over 200 illustrations. 

By Jim Ignasher

Updated October, 2020 


West Warwick Police
1st Issue patch
Worn 1930s

     Today’s police officers wear a patch on the left shoulder of their uniform which identifies their agency.  The patch is usually multi-colored, depicting a municipal seal or something else representative of the town or city.   However, there was a time when such emblems were plain and simple, stating only the department’s name with the word “police” added. This wasn’t due to any lack of imagination on the part of police chiefs. It had more to do with loom technology of the time and keeping costs low. 

     Some of these early examples are hard to find today, for not only were they produced in relatively small numbers, they were discarded when they became obsolete. Furthermore, collectors generally overlooked them in favor of the more elaborate designs which came later. It’s only in recent times that the historic value of these early emblems has been recognized.

     Rarer still can be the uniform patches worn by part-time officers.  Over the years many police departments appointed part-time officers to supplement the regular paid force.   These officers were known as constables, reserves, auxiliaries, and specials, depending on the municipal charter.  They might work one or two days a month, of fill-in as needed for special details, or work any other assignment deemed necessary by the chief.  Sometimes these officers wore their own insignia which clearly differentiated them from the regular force. 

     In most cases these part-time officers performed the same police duties as the regular officers, and therefore faced the same risks and dangers of the job, but there were some who viewed them as not being “real” police officers.  Consequently early emblems worn by these officers have largely been ignored by collectors and thus fewer have survived.      

Worn by members of the the Warwick Police Dive team in the late 1980s.

 Another area of interest are the “special unit” patches worn by  certain divisions within the department such as a Dive Team,  Traffic Division, K-9, or Honor Guard, just to name a few.  In many cases these patches were produced in small numbers due to the limited number of officers assigned, and if the unit disbanded no more were ordered.  In other cases the patches went through a style change with “old” ones being discarded.  Sometimes the “special unit”, patches were only worn unofficially on windbreakers, work suits,  or in the case of an honor guard, on dress uniforms.  Examples of these patches can be hard to come by. 

     Perhaps the rarest insignia are the unaccepted prototype emblems produced for a police department when considering a style change.  In most cases only a handful would be produced, (generally about five), by a manufacturer and then presented to the chief for consideration.  If the prototypes were approved, then they were produced in large numbers, however, in cases where the prototypes were rejected, the emblems were generally disposed of, or kept by an interested officer. 

     This article depicts examples of Rhode Island’s earliest known municipal police insignia. They were culled from a private collection begun in the 1970s.  Most are “first issues”, meaning they were the first patch worn by the agency however, in some instances no “first issues” are known to exist. Therefore, the earliest succeeding issues are represented. All of the examples depicted are long obsolete having been replaced by various succeeding issues.    

     Sources for this article include the 1970 and 1971 yearbooks of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association.  These rare publications depict images of the uniform patches worn by each department at the time, as well as information about each department’s size and rank structure.     

     The history of law enforcement patches coincides with the evolution of the police uniform. Police officers in large cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago, began wearing uniforms in the mid-1800s, but it wasn’t until the early half of the 1900s that many local police departments adopted uniforms.  At that time, generally speaking, the only distinguishing feature from one department to the next was the breast badge worn by the officers.  This eventually led to the idea of using cloth insignia to differentiate agencies.  It is believed that the notion came from the shoulder patches worn on military uniforms to identify which unit or division a soldier belonged.      

Smithfield Chief of Police
William Kelley
C. 1935
Note the patch on left shoulder. It appears to be round with the wording “Smithfield Police” with an anchor in the middle.
Click on image to enlarge.

     Exactly when the first law enforcement uniform patches were introduced in Rhode Island is unclear, but there’s photographic evidence to support that Smithfield, Warwick, and West Warwick police departments were wearing simple uniform patches as early as the 1930s and 40s, and it’s possible that others were as well.  Many Rhode Island police departments were wearing shoulder patches by the 1960s, and all of them had some type of insignia by the 1970s.  Today every Rhode Island law enforcement agency wears some type of shoulder insignia on their uniforms.

     The earliest patches were made of a heavy felt material with a cheesecloth backing, or in some instances, a white cotton backing, almost like the cotton of a T-shirt.  Some versions were made of a ribbed twill fabric with cheesecloth backing.  Modern patches generally have a wax backing which helps prevent shrinkage and deformation after multiple washings. Patches produced from the 1930s through 1970s generally didn’t have a wax backing.

     One may be surprised to learn that full-time paid police departments as we think of them today are a relatively modern “invention”. The earliest law enforcement agencies in Rhode Island were the county sheriff departments which were established in the 1630s. By the 1700s some of the larger towns had constables who enforced local ordinances and patrolled (sometimes) at night.  The majority of Rhode Island municipalities remained under a constabulary system for well into the 20th century before establishing a permanent police department through city or town decree. 

First Issue Providence Police
Worn from 1962 to 1972.

     Perhaps the oldest police department in the state is the Providence Police, which can trace its origins to 1651 when a small number of constables were appointed by the Town Council under the command of an elected Town Sergeant. These men patrolled in pairs, and generally only at night.

     This system remained in effect until 1775 when the first “night watch” was formally established under town ordinance. The original night watch consisted of four men, but by 1826 had increased to twenty-four.

     In 1831 Providence incorporated as a city and created the position of City Marshall to lead the police constables.

     In 1848, Providence constables were issued badges for the first time, but initially many kept these symbols of authority in their pockets until a general order was issued dictating they be worn on the lapels of the outer coats.  (The constables did not wear uniforms at this time.)   

Providence Police
Community Service Officer
Worn 1960s

     The first day patrol was established in 1851, consisting of ten men.

   Two years later the department was increased to forty-six men and five police districts were created.   Each district came under the charge of a sergeant.

   It wasn’t until 1864 that the Providence Police Department as we know it today was formally established under city ordinance. The following year Providence officers began wearing uniforms for the first time.  Its unclear when they began wearing uniform shoulder patches, but its believed to have occurred in the 1960s.     

Providence Police Reserve
Worn 1960s – early 1970s

2nd Issue
Worn from 1972 to 1981

3rd Issue
Worn from 1981 to 1990.

Current Issue
Different than the first issue because the lettering is white, not gold.

Round Style, Issued 1991
Four inches wide.

Early SWAT Patch

First issued in 1991.

First issued in 1991.

K-9 Patch worn between 1981 to 1990.

Issued circa 1990.

Early Honor Guard Patch – circa 1990

First Issue Harbor Patrol Patch.
Sewn onto polo shirts. Issued early 1990s.

2nd Issue
Name changed to Marine Patrol

Circa 1990

Circa 1990

Circa 1990

Issued late 1990s
This was a separate department, and the officers were not members of the Providence Police. They primarily patrolled Roger Williams Park, but all city parks came under their jurisdiction.

     The Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy was established in 1969.  Below is the earliest known patch worn by recruits while they attended the academy. 

R. I. Police Academy Patch
First Issue, worn 1970s

2nd Issue
Worn in the 1980s
A similar, but later version had different wording.

Rhode Island
Municipal Police Academy
3rd issue
Worn C. 1990 – 1996

     Barrington was incorporated on June 16, 1770. 

     In 1970 the Barrington Police Department was staffed by a Chief, a Deputy Chief, five Sergeants, and sixteen Patrolmen.          

Barrington R. I. Police
Worn 1960s

Barrington Police
Worn 1960s
By 1970 the red lettering was changed to gold.

Barrington Police
c. 1970 to 1980s.

Barrington Auxiliary Police
C. 1970s

First version of current issue. Later versions have waving flags.

     The Town of Bristol was named after Bristol, England, and was incorporated January 27, 1747.   The patch pictured below has been worn since the 1960s, and although it has gone through some color changes over the years, it is still being worn today in blue and gold colors.   

     In 1970 the uniformed department consisted of one Chief, one Deputy Chief, one Captain, two Sergeants, and nineteen Patrolmen.


Note the spelling of “harbor”

Either a prototype, or worn briefly after the black and yellow style pictured above. (1980s)

An early version of the current issue patch.

Worn from 1973 to late 1980s.

     Burrillville was originally part of the town of Glocester before its incorporation on October 29, 1806. The town was named after James Burrill, Rhode Island’s Attorney General from 1797 to 1814.


A reproduction of the style worn during the 1960s.

The second issue worn by the department shows the town seal.
Worn 1970s – mid 1980s
Some early examples of this patch have the date 1805 instead of 1806.

An example of a patch with the wrong date of 1805.

Third Issue
First worn in 1983

     Central Falls was originally part of the Town of Lincoln, which until 1871, was part of the Town of Smithfield. The City of Central Falls was incorporated February 21, 1895.

     In 1970, the department was staffed by a Chief, a Deputy Chief, two Captains, two Lieutenants, five Sergeants, and twenty-five Patrolmen.

     The Central Falls patch represented here is known as an “anchor style” – a generic “fill-in-the-top” patch worn by many Rhode Island police departments in the 1960s and early 70s.  Early versions were made of felt; later ones were made of twill.

Central Falls Police
Worn 1960s – 1970s

Central Falls Police
Second Issue
Worn 1970s – 1980s

Central Falls R. I. Auxiliary Police
C. 1970s

3rd Issue – issued 1989.

Current Issue


Central Falls K-9

      Charlestown was incorporated on August 22, 1738, and was named in honor of King Charles II of England. 

     In 1970, the Charlestown Police Department consisted of the Chief of Police, two full-time patrolmen, and ten part-time constables.

Charlestown R. I. Police
worn 1960s – 1970s

Charlestown Police
2nd Issue Worn from 1985 – 1989

Current Issue. 1989

1st issue Emergency Service Unit patch. 1990s.

     Coventry was originally part of Warwick until its incorporation on August 21, 1741, and was named for Coventry, England.   

     Of the patches depicted below, the one with the small anchor was issued first.  It’s made of a felt material and has a cotton cloth backing.  The other two patches with the large anchor are newer, but still date to the 1960s.  The one with the grey background was worn on shirts. This style was discontinued by the department around 1968.

Coventry Police
Small Anchor
Worn 1950s – 1960s

Coventry Police
Large Anchor
Worn until 1968

Coventry Police
Grey Version
Worn until 1968

Coventry Police
Worn from 1968 to circa 1970, then “R. I.” was added under the elephant.

With “R. I.” added under the elephant.
Worn 1980s

Black and red version of patch worn 1990s.

Coventry Police unaccepted prototype patch.
The accepted version said, “Town of Coventry” across the top.

Accepted prototype.

Old-style K-9

     Cranston was originally part of Providence until its incorporation as a town on June 14, 1754. It was named in honor of Samuel Cranston, the Governor of Rhode Island from 1698 to 1727. Cranston became a city on March 10, 1910, shortly after which the Cranston Police Department was formally established as the first permanent police force under city ordinance, although Cranston had been utilizing police constables since 1754.

     The first permanent force consisted of one Chief of Police and ten Patrolmen, supplemented by part-time constables.

     Cranston’s first uniform patch was made of a heavy felt material.  Those with silver borders were worn by Patrolmen.  Those with gold borders were worn by ranking officers.  The patches were first worn in 1967, and continued in use until 1995.  

     The words “Dum”, “Vigilo”, “Curo” are Latin for “While I watch, I care.”   

Cranston Police
Worn 1967 to 1995

Supervisor patch with gold border.

Unaccepted prototype -1990s.

Unaccepted Prototype – July, 2021

     Cranston “emergency police” officers were civilian volunteers originally established under Civil Defense in the early 1950s, and who later patrolled city parks and buildings, however they were unarmed and didn’t have arrest powers.

Possibly a Prototype,
Early 1950s.

Worn by the Cranston Emergency Police, who were volunteer officers.  Round patches with a white background were worn by ranking officers.
Worn mid-1950s to 1967

Worn 1950s to 1967.


Worn from 1967 to mid 1990s.

The Emergency Service Squad was established in the early 1960s and this patch was created, but never worn. Very few are known to have survived.

First Issue – 1988
only 25 were produced.

Second Issue – 1990
Note color variation with city seal.

SRT patch with white background – 1990.
Never issued.

Green version – 1990
Never issued.

1st issue Dive Team Patch – 1989

2nd Issue – with white lettering. Never issued.
Current patch has black lettering.

DARE Officer Patch
First issued in 1990

A prototype made in 2010 for the bicycle patrol. Never issued.

     Cumberland was incorporated on January 27, 1747, and is named for William, the Duke of Cumberland. 

     In 1970 the police department was staffed by one Chief, one Deputy Chief, three Captains, three Sergeants, and twenty Patrolmen. 

     The patch depicts the shape of the town of Cumberland and the year of incorporation.

Cumberland Police
Worn 1960s – until c. 1984

Second Issue
First worn c. 1984.
“R. I.” was added later.

Four inches wide.
Possible prototype.

Emergency Response Team

     The town of East Greenwich was incorporated on October 31, 1677, and was named for Greenwich, England. 

     In 1970 the department was staffed by one Chief, two uniform Lieutenants, one Detective Lieutenant, one Sergeant, and fourteen Patrolmen, and eleven Special Officers.

An Xerox copy of an early East Greenwich PD patch.

     The patch depicted below has been worn by the department since the 1960s, and is still in use today.

Felt Version

Unaccepted Prototype

     East Providence incorporated as a town on March 1, 1862, and as a city in 1958.

     The department’s current uniform patch was worn as early as the late 1950s or early 1960s, but it was originally blue and gold in color.   The current patch is red and black.  The city seal is in the center.

An early example of the East Providence Police patch. Worn c. 1960 to 1983

Worn by East Providence Special Police, 1970s – 1980s

     In 1960, East Providence received the All-America City Award, and for one year officers wore a custom All-America City patch on the right shoulder of their uniforms.  It’s unknown how many of these emblems were produced, and how many were issued to each officer.  The example illustrated below had metal snaps sewn to the back of it indicating that it was transferred from shirt to shirt by the officer who wore it.

Worn by members of the East Providence Police Department in 1960.

Reverse side showing the metal snaps attached.

Unaccepted Prototype from 1989.

Issued circa 1989.

Issued circa 1990.

Issued in 1988.

Issued in 1989.

Issued in 1989.

Issued in 1988.

     The Town of Exeter is currently the only town in Rhode Island without a police department.  However, the town did once have a police department consisting for a Chief of Police and several part-time officers during the 1960s and into the 1970s.     

     Original examples of the patch worn by members of the Exeter Police Department are rare, and in recent years someone has reproduced them. When compared to an original, it’s easy to tell the difference.  The originals are made of a ribbed twill fabric with a cotton cheesecloth backing, and the lettering is rounded, not flat looking.  

An original Exeter Police Patch
Worn 1960 to 1978

Worn for one year
1978 – 1979
Then the police dept. was disbanded.

     The Town of Foster was set apart from the Town of Scituate on August 24, 1781, and is said to be named for Theodore Foster, who was a U. S. Senator from Rhode Island.

     In 1970 the department was staffed by a Chief of Police and six part-time patrolmen. 

Foster R. I. Police
First Issue
Worn 1960s – 1970s

Blue cloth version.

Foster R. I. Police
2nd Issue
Has the town seal, but not the word “Police”.
Worn 1970s – early 1980s

Foster R. I. Police
3rd Issue
Worn 1980s – early 1990s

Current Issue
First issued 1990s

Unaccepted Prototype
Circa 2019

     The Town of Glocester was incorporated February 20, 1730/31 after being set apart from the (then) town of Providence.

     In 1970 the police department consisted of a Chief of Police and ten part-time officers.  The patch illustrated below was no longer worn by 1970. 

Glocester R. I. Police
First Issue
Worn 1960s

An early example of the department’s current patch.

     The Town of Hopkinton was incorporated March 19, 1757. 

     In 1970 the department consisted of a Chief of Police, a Deputy Chief, and several part-time officers.

Hopkinton Police
Worn 1960s – 1970s


Hopkinton R. I. Police
2nd issue
Worn 1970s – 1980s

Third Issue, with the date of 1757. Only worn briefly.

Current Issue
With date removed, and replaced by “R. I.”

     Jamestown was incorporated on October 30, 1678 and was named in honor of King James II of England.  the town occupies Conanicut Island in Narragansett Bay. 

     In 1970 the police department was staffed by a Chief of Police, one Lieutenant, one Sergeant, and four Patrolmen, and several special officers.

     The first patch known to be worn by the Jamestown police had a light blue background and dark blue lettering that read “Jamestown Police, R.I.”.  The second issue patch worn by the department came into existence in the 1960s, and was used into the early 1980s. 

Jamestown R. I. Police
Second Issue
Worn 1960s – early 1980s

Jamestown R. I. Police
3rd Issue

     Johnston incorporated as a town on March 6, 1759, and was named for Rhode Island Attorney General Augustus Johnston, who served from 1758 to 1766.    

     In 1970 the police department consisted of a Chief of Police, one Captain, two Lieutenants, three Sergeants, four Corporals, and 28 Officers.

     Of the two patch examples illustrated below, it’s unknown which came first.  The first has a fully embroidered background and black border, the second has a twill background and a gold border.  

Johnston Police
Worn 1960s to 1971

Johnston Police
Worn 1960s to 1971

     Johnston’s 3rd Issue uniform patch depicted an eagle.  It was worn until 1983, when it was replaced by an updated version with black thread outlining all of the eagle’s feathers.  Other variations followed, and today the department’s uniform patch depicts a black eagle.       

Johnston R. I. Police
3rd Issue
Worn 1970s to 1983.

Forth Issue

Fifth Issue
With “R. I.” Added

Johnston R. I. Police
Worn 1996 to 2001.
Supervisors wore examples with a white background.

White background worn by supervisors.

Worn 1970s

     The Town of Lincoln was originally part of the Town of Smithfield until it incorporated as its own municipality on March 8, 1871.   It was named in honor of former President Abraham Lincoln. 

     Its possible that the first patch worn by the department was a simple triangle  with the words “Lincoln Police” on it, but this is unconfirmed.  The earliest confirmed uniform patch worn by the department was the town seal pictured below.  At the time it was one of two police patches worn by Rhode Island departments that didn’t include the word “police”  on it. (The other being North Kingstown.)  This patch was worn by regular officers until 1971, and then worn by reserve officers for several years afterward.      

Said to be the first issue of the Lincoln, R. I. Police, but this is unconfirmed.

Lincoln R. I. Police
Worn 1960s to 1971

Third Issue – red background
Worn 1971 – 1989

Error Patch – never issued
Note date of 1980. Made in 1988. Most presumably destroyed.

     The Town of Little Compton was formally incorporated on January 27, 1747. 

     In 1970 the police department was staffed by a Chief of Police , a Sergeant-Inspector, and several part-time officers.

Little Compton R. I. Police
Worn 1960s – 1970s

Little Compton Police
2nd Issue
Still worn by the department, but with “R. I.” added at the bottom.

     The Town of Middletown was originally part of Newport until its incorporation on June 16, 1743.  Its name comes from the fact that it occupies the middle portion of Aquidneck Island.

Middletown R. I. Police
Worn prior to 1970.

Middletown Police
2nd Issue
An early version made of heavy felt.

Blue background worn by Reserve Officers

     The Town of Narragansett was incorporated on March 28, 1901.  The name comes from the Narragansett Indian tribe, and the town also borders Narragansett Bay.

     In 1970 the uniformed officers included the Chief of Police, one Deputy Chief, one Captain, one Lieutenant, three Sergeants, and fifteen Patrolmen.  

     The current Narragansett police patch has been worn continuously since the 1960s.  It depicts the famous twin towers,  a famous Rhode Island landmark.

Narragansett Police
Worn since about 1970

Worn C. 1980s

     Newport incorporated as a city on June 1, 1784, but the charter was later repealed.  The city incorporated a second time on May 20, 1853. 

     In 1970 the Newport police consisted of a Chief of Police, one Assistant Chief,  three Captains, eight Lieutenants, thirteen Sergeants, and fifty-nine officers.       

An early version of the current uniform patch with a different colored city seal, worn prior to 1970.

     The department still wears the patch it was wearing in 1970.

Newport R. I. Police
Worn since at least 1970.

This tab was worn above the shoulder patch by Newport’s Auxiliary Police in the 1970s and 1980s.

Issued in 1990s.

      The Town of New Shoreham is located on Block Island three miles off the southern coast of Rhode Island.  The town was admitted to the Rhode Island Colony on May 4, 1664 as Block Island, named for Adrian Block, an early Dutch explorer and seaman.  On November 6, 1672, the name was changed to New Shoreham.    

     In 1970 the island was policed by a Chief of Police who was assisted by several special officers.

     It is unknown which of the following three patches was used first. 

New Shoreham Police
C. 1960s

New Shoreham Police
C. 1960s

New Shoreham Police
C. 1960s

Worn early 1980s.

First Issued in 1983.
Dark background, blue border.

Current Issue with blue background, black border, and updated town seal.




     North Kingstown  was originally part of “Kings Towne”, incorporated on October 28, 1674.  At that time, the town of North Kingstown and South Kingstown were one.  The town divided in February of 1723.

     The original North Kingstown uniform patch depicted the town seal, was made of felt, and did not have the word “police” on it.  Twill versions of this emblem also exist.  It was worn from the 1960s into the early 1980s.  


North Kingstown R. I. Police
Worn 1960s to 1980s.

North Kingstown, R. I., Police
3rd issue
Light blue background.

C. 1960s – 1970s A version of this patch was also worn by full-time officers with the lettering “DEPT.” instead of “AUX”.

     North Providence was incorporated on June 13, 1765. 

     In 1970 the department consisted of a Chief of Police, two Captains, three Lieutenants, three Sergeants, three Detectives, and 21 Patrolmen, as well as several Special Patrolmen.

North Providence Police
Worn 1960s – 1982

North Providence Police
2nd Issue
Worn 1982 to 1994

An early North Providence police reserve patch believed to date to the 1950s.

Worn C. 1960s

Worn C. 1970s


      The Town of North Smithfield was originally part of the Town of Smithfield until its incorporation on March 8, 1871. 

     The three hammers are representative of the town’s official seal. 

North Smithfield Police
Worn 1960s – 1970s

North Smithfield Police
2nd Issue
First worn in 1983

     The City of Pawtucket was incorporated as a town on February 29, 1828, and as a city on March 27, 1885.  The name is of Indian origin.

     In 1970 the police department consisted of 152 officers.

     Depicted on the patch is a view of the bridge which crosses Pawtucket Falls.  The patch is made of heavy felt. Cloth-twill examples are also known to exist.

Pawtucket R. I. Police
Worn 1960s – 1970s

Pawtucket R.I. Police
2nd Issue
Worn during the 1980s.

Fraternal Order of Police
Lodge 4

Current Issue
Enhanced City Seal

C. 1960s – 1970s

Pawtucket Police
Parks & Properties
Dates to the 1970s

Pawtucket Police
Housing Authority
Only worn for six months in 1995.

     The Town of Portsmouth was incorporated on January 12, 1640, and was named for Portsmouth, England.      

     The department wore two colored “anchor styles” in the 1960s.  One gold and the other silver.  Both were discontinued by 1970.

Portsmouth R. I. Police
Silver and black patch
Worn 1960s

Portsmouth R. I. Police
Gold and black patch
Worn 1960s

Portsmouth Police
2nd Issue
Worn in the 1980s

Portsmouth Civil Defense


    The Town of Richmond was incorporated August 18, 1747.

    In 1970 the police department consisted of a Chief of Police, a Deputy Chief, and several special officers.   

     The patches shown below were worn by the Richmond Police from the 1960s until the mid 1980s.  The black patches were won on jackets, and the light blue patches were worn on shirts.

Richmond R. I. Police
Black felt
Worn on uniform coats
1960s to the 1980s

Richmond R. I. Police
Worn on uniform shirts
1960s to 1980s

     The Town of Scituate was incorporated on February 20, 1731.

     In 1970 the police department consisted of the Chief of Police, one Deputy Chief, one Captain, one Lieutenant, two Sergeants, one Corporal, eleven Patrolmen, and nine part-time officers.

Scituate R. I. Police
Worn 1960s and 1970s

     The Town of Smithfield was incorporated on February 20, 1730/31 and originally included the present-day municipalities of North Smithfield, Woonsocket south of the Blackstone River, Lincoln, and Central Falls, until its division in 1871.

     In 1970 the police department included a Chief of Police, one Deputy Chief, one Lieutenant, two Sergeants, and twelve Patrolmen.

     The first uniform patch, of which there are no known surviving examples, was round with the words “Smithfield Police” and an anchor in the middle.  The top example illustrated below is believed to be the department’s second issue, created sometime in the 1950s. 

Smithfield R. I. Police
Worn 1950s – 1960s

Smithfield R. I. Police
Worn 1960s – 1970s

A white version of the Smithfield patch.

Smithfield R.I. Police
Worn from 1973 to 2017.
This is an early issue. Later issues were fully embroidered.


Second Issue

First Issue

Second Issue – 2021

Silver Patch, First Issued October 2022

Crisis Negotiator – issued October, 2022

     South Kingstown was incorporated on February 26, 1723.

    In 1970 the uniformed police department included a Chief of Police, two Captains, three Lieutenants, four Sergeants, and nineteen Patrolmen.   

    The department’s uniform patch has been worn since the 1960s, but has gone through some minor changes over the years concerning the arrowhead in the center.   In the original version depicted below, it was thought that the arrowhead appeared to be a Christmas tree, so modifications were made over the years to correct this.

South Kingstown R. I. Police
Worn 1960s to present

Style 2

Style 3

C. 1970s – 1980s

     Tiverton was incorporated as a town in Massachusetts in 1694, and was annexed to Rhode Island on January 27, 1747. 

     In 1970 the Tiverton police department consisted of a Chief of Police, one Lieutenant, three Sergeants, and twelve Patrolmen.

     The first issue Tiverton police uniform patch was similar to the second issue one pictured below, except that it did not indicate “R. I.” on it.  

Tiverton R. I. Police
Second issue with “R.I.” added
Worn prior to 1970.

Tiverton, R. I. Police
3rd Issue
Worn 1980s

Tiverton Police
Bridge Patch.
The current issue has an anchor instead of the bridge in the center.

     Warren was originally a town in Massachusetts until it was annexed to Rhode Island in may of 1746.  The original name of the town was Barrington until its division in 1770.  Barrington retained the original name, and the new town was named Warren in honor of Sir Peter  Warren, an Admiral in the British Navy.

     In 1970 the Warren Police Department consisted of a Chief of Police, one Deputy Chief, one Captain, three Sergeants, and twelve Patrolmen.

Warren R. I. Police
Worn prior to 1970

Warren Police
2nd Issue, worn until 1986

Warren Police
3rd Issue

Warren R. I. Police
4th Issue
Improved Town Seal   

Fifth Issue
“R.I.” was later added at bottom.

       Warwick originally included the towns of Coventry and West Warwick.  Coventry separated from Warwick in 1741, and in 1913, West Warwick separated from Warwick. 

     Warwick incorporated as a city on April 21, 1931, and is named for the Earl of Warwick. 

     In 1970 the Warwick police consisted of a Chief, two Commanders, six Captains, seven Lieutenants, sixteen Sergeants, twenty-four Detectives and 89 patrolmen.

Warwick R. I. Police
Worn 1930s – 1950s

Warwick Police
2nd Issue

C. 1960s – 1970s

Worn by members of the the Warwick Police Dive team in the late 1980s.

First Issue – C. 1980
Black Lettering

2nd Issue
Yellow Lettering

Third Issue

Issued in 1991

     West Greenwich was originally joined with East Greenwich, and separated to become its own municipality on April 6, 1741. 

     In 1970 the police department consisted of a Chief of Police who was assisted by fourteen volunteer patrolmen and one part-time clerk.

West Greenwich R. I. Police
Worn 1960s – 1970s

West Greenwich Police
2nd Issue, Worn from 1970s to 1987/88

     The Town of Westerly was incorporated on May 14, 1669. 

     In 1970 the uniformed police department consisted of  a Chief of Police, one Captain, one Lieutenant, three Sergeants, and twenty Patrolmen.

     The department’s patch is currently a colorized version of the one it has worn since the 1960s.  The town seal in the center of the patch depicts three red salmon, once found in large numbers in the Pawcatuck River, and the memorial at the top represents monuments around the world made with Westerly granite.

Westerly R. I. Police

Worn C. 1960s


      The Town of West Warwick was originally part of Warwick until it incorporated on March 14, 1913, making it the state’s youngest municipality. 

     In 1970 the police department consisted of a Chief of Police, one Captain, one Detective Lieutenant, two uniform Lieutenants, two Sergeants, three Corporals, and twenty-seven Patrolmen.    

     The first issue West Warwick Police uniform patch was oval in shape, with a grey background and blue lettering.  Only one example is known to exist.

     The department’s second issue patch was a grayish-blue triangle with blue lettering which read “West Warwick Police”.  There are no known original examples still in existence today. 

     The department’s third issue was an anchor style which was worn in the 1960s to about 1975. 

West Warwick Police
1st Issue patch
Worn 1930s

A reproduction of the triangle style patch worn by the West Warwick Police.

West Warwick Police
Worn 1960s to 1975

Worn C. 1980s

Early West Warwick SWAT patch printed on canvas – 1970s


Color version, first issued in 1988.

     The portion n of Woonsocket north of the Blackstone River was originally part of the Town of Cumberland until it was incorporated as its own municipality on January 31, 1867.  The portion of Woonsocket south of the Blackstone once belonged to the Town of Smithfield until it was annexed to Woonsocket in March of 1871.   Woonsocket incorporated as a city on June 13, 1888. 

     The first patch worn by the department was made of heavy felt and depicted the city seal in the center.  A similar patch with “C. D.” added (For Civil Defense) was worn by auxiliary officers.   

Woonsocket Police
Worn 1960s – 1973

Worn 1966 to 1973

2nd Issue
Worn 1973 to 1985

Woonsocket Police
3rd Issue
Worn from 1985 to 1995
Patches with a white background were worn by ranking officers.

Woonsocket Police
Fourth Issue, 1995 – early 2000s

Auxiliary Police Patch     

     The simple (and generic) auxiliary police patch depicted below is believed to date to WWII, and was worn by members of the Civil Defense Corps.   It is unknown which police department(s) may have used it.  



Auxiliary Police Civil defense Armband
from the 1950s.

1970s Law Enforcement Explorer Patch.

      A Final word…

     The patch pictured below, which dates to the 1960s – 1970s,  is fictitious.  While there is a Medway, Massachusetts, there is no municipality in Rhode Island known as “Medway”. 

There is no Medway, Rhode Island.



Police Tales Of Yesteryear


By Jim Ignasher    

     The evening of October 2, 1933, was one of those glorious autumn nights where the weather was clear and cool, and the stars twinkled brightly; perfect for romance. So it was that a young man and his favorite girl parked along wooded Ridge Road near the North Providence line. As the couple sat in the car anticipating what might come next, a man with a pistol emerged from the woods.

     “Stick ‘em up and hand over your dough!” he demanded, as if he were in some B-rated gangster movie.

     The couple was in no position to argue, and the young man quickly handed over two dollars, stammering that it was all he had.

     Instead of being angry, or running off, the robber then proceeded to tell the couple his life story, leading up to how he had recently been released from prison. His time in jail, he insisted, had been a “bum rap”, and swore he was totally innocent of the crime he had been convicted of. He then explained that the only reason he was robbing them was to raise enough money to leave Rhode Island so he could “go straight.”

   Sepia tone images of those long ago days of the Great Depression seem to reflect a simpler, gentler time, when family values were strong, communities were close, and everyone pulled together. However, the 1930s were also the days of John Dillinger, “Machine Gun” Kelley, and “Pretty-Boy” Floyd, hailed by some as modern day Robin Hoods, robbing banks and committing cold-blooded murder in flamboyant style. Although Rhode Island was spared such notoriety, Smithfield’s police officers still had crime and other problems to deal with. All of the stories contained in this article are true, culled from a collection of Depression Era newspaper clippings donated to the Historical Society of Smithfield by former town resident, Dorothy E. Reynolds.          

     On July 8, 1934, a West Warwick man was arrested in Georgiaville for “reveling”, but not before he put up a tenacious fight with officers. He appeared before the Ninth District Court in Gerogiaville where he pled guilty and was fined $100, which was a huge sum of money in those days.  

     The following month Officer Henry Passano was called to the Stillwater Country Club to investigate a report of a lost wrist watch. The complainant, a Woonsocket man, claimed he removed the watch while washing his hands and forgot it. When he returned later it was gone.

     On a warm August afternoon in 1937, Chief of Police Alfred La Croix was patrolling along Farnum Pike when he encountered two pretty teenage girls clad only in bathing suits walking home from Georgaiville Beach. After speaking with the girls, he drafted a proclamation banning the practice of strolling along public highways in such attire. The ban, which also applied to non-Smithfield residents, did not include sun suits or short pants.

     Apparently traveling peddlers had become a nuisance for that September Smithfield’s Town Council adopted a new ordinance requiring all peddlers operating in town to have a license. However, certain vendors, such as butchers, fish dealers, and farmers, were exempt.

     On October 4, 1937, a seventeen year- old youth accidentally shot himself in the leg while hunting in the woods off Capron Road. Severely wounded and unable to walk, he began shouting for help. Fortunately, his cries were heard by Maria Appleby and members of the Stillwater Country Club who went to his aid.

     Later that same month, Chief La Croix and School Superintendent Aaron F. Demorganville conferred about the possibility of using older students to establish a junior police squad for the purpose of crossing school children at intersections. The youthful “officers” would be equipped with a white traffic belt, a badge, and a hand-held stop sign.

   On October 21, 1937, Smithfield police held their first policeman’s ball with more than 300 people in attendance. Proceeds were used to buy uniforms and equipment for the department.

   The Ninth District Court docket for May 26, 1938 shows that a Greenville man was fined $20 for operating his motorcycle at an “estimated” speed of 58 mph on Farnum Pike. Two other men were fined $5 for operating motor vehicles without a license.

     An amusing tale concerning the courtroom wood stove happened on June 24, 1938, when the janitor, following orders, started a fire to remove dampness from the building. He apparently did his job a little too well for the resulting heat from the roaring fire, compiled with normal June temperatures, forced a temporary recess.      

    On the night of February 23, 1939, Walsh’s Roller Skating Rink in Georgiaville was destroyed by fire. Firefighters battled the blaze in strong icy winds while police dealt with hundreds of onlookers. Mr. Walsh vowed to rebuild.  

     A sad incident occurred in April of 1939, when a family of squatters living in a tar paper shack in the woods of Hanton City, sent for a doctor for their sick baby. Upon arrival, the doctor discovered the baby girl dead in her make-shift crib. It was determined the child suffered from severe malnutrition, and died of suffocation due to an overheated woodstove. Conditions in the dwelling were described as “deplorable”. When Smithfield police went to investigate they found the shack deserted. The family, which had two other children, ages 3 and 5, was said to be headed for California. The baby was given a proper burial in at town expense.

     A Pawtucket man was slightly injured on April 23, 1939, when his hastily repaired two-seater airplane crashed at Smithfield Airport, located where Bryant University stands today. The crash was blamed on a “bad welding job” and the mechanic responsible was promptly fired. The plane was owned by the Smithfield Airport Club, an organization consisting of young men interested in aviation.

     On March 21, 1940, Smithfield police and firefighters were called to the Lister Worsted Co. Mill in Stillwater after a bolt of lightning struck the 180-foot smoke stack and blasted the top half away. Tons of debris crashed down through the roof of the mill injuring three workers, damaging equipment, and igniting a small fire on the roof. Damage was estimated at $50,000.  

     It is said that lightning never strikes twice. However, the same chimney had also been hit by lightning in 1938, causing $8,000 in damage.

   One week later, Officer Charles Sullivan was injured when he was struck by a motorist while directing traffic outside Walsh’s Dance Hall on Farnum Pike in Georgiaville. The driver claimed he had not seen the policeman.

     More than just old newspaper accounts survive to give a glimpse of what the job was like for a Smithfield police officer during the Depression. In September, 2009, Smithfield’s deputy chief of police, Richard P. St. Sauveur, discovered an old iron key that once locked the cell of the Georgiaville bridewell. Before Smithfield had a police station, prisoners were lodged in one of two rented bridewells, a.k.a. jails, one on either side of town. The artifact is presently on display at the Smith-Appley House Museum.

     Yes, in many ways times were simpler then, but these stories illustrate that the job of a police officer has always been tough and challenging.

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