Santa Monica police are celebrating their department's centennial with an old-fashioned look, turning in their oval-shaped police badges for six-pointed star badges similar to those donned by their predecessors 100 years ago.
The 192 sworn police officers will wear the sterling silver star badges this year, officials said.
"Everyone is excited about wearing the star badges," said Sgt. Gary Gallinot. "It's a way to celebrate the first 100 years of the department and honor all the officers here before us."
Switching to the new badges was the first of the centennial events, with a police-celebrity softball game and chili cook-off scheduled for May, a parade along Ocean Avenue in August and a centennial ball in the fall, Gallinot said.
Also coming out this year is the first history of the police department, researched and written by officers and volunteers. Police will sell the book, "True Blue, Century of Service," to raise money for the police-sponsored youth activities league.
In addition to learning about the badges, researching the book has turned up details illustrating the vast changes in policing during the last 100 years, Gallinot said.
In 1896, when Santa Monica officials decided the growing city needed a dedicated Police Department, they hired one man to be constable, he said. In those days, when the constable had to arrest someone, he would commandeer a freight wagon or borrow a wheelbarrow to take the suspect off to jail.