Bristol PD patches to benefit local charities
“Our focus is on community policing. We’re in front of the schools so kids can see us. We try to be out walking a minimum of twice a day. People will often see us and take that opportunity to let us know about things that are going on.”
— Bristol Police Chief Bruce Nason
BRISTOL — Many Bristol residents will tell you their police officers put their hearts into their work, greeting folks and listening to community concerns while out on patrol, offering friendly smiles during school drop-off or pickup, helping people get help.
Starting next month, the Bristol Police Department will take it a bit further, in a manner of speaking, and wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Throughout October, BPD uniforms will feature specially made commemorative patches with pink lettering and borders, in honor of breast cancer awareness month.
Not only that, but the department will be selling the limited edition patches to raise money for a cancer-related charity — one it hopes local residents will help choose.
“We’re always bouncing ideas off each other about ways to engage with the community,” said BPD Officer Josh Turner, who joined the department in June 2020.
Turner pitched the patch idea to Chief Bruce Nason after seeing a new design put out by the Winooski Police Department.
Nason thought it was a great idea and donated the first 300 patches, to help the department get started.
“We figured October was coming soon, and some of us have friends or family members who are survivors of breast cancer, so we thought this would be a good thing to do,” Nason said.
Bristol police ordered 150 pink patches and are selling them for $10 apiece, with 70% of the proceeds going to charity and the rest set aside to produce more patches.
By Monday, the department had already sold 40 pink lettered patches.
The fun part is getting community feedback, said Turner, who is coordinating the effort via email.
“We’ve already gotten some great suggestions about where to donate the proceeds,” he said. “And we’re hearing great comments, people saying they’re glad to see us involved in the community.”
Pink ribbons have been associated with breast cancer awareness since about 1990. Since then, similar public health awareness campaigns have evolved, featuring different colored ribbons. White or pearl for lung cancer. Orange for leukemia. Red for heart disease.
Some Bristol residents have suggested Bristol police should expand their patch program to bring awareness to and raise money for these other causes.
But the BPD is already on it.
“We reached out to the company that makes our current patches,” Nason said. “They have a template, so there would be no design cost to making different colored patches.”
In fact, a second run of 150 BPD patches has already come out. These blue and gray patches are “more subdued” than the pink-lettered ones, Nason and Turner said.
These patches also sell for $10, and proceeds will go to the police union and to future community-oriented campaigns.
“This is just the beginning,” Nason said. “We want to expand to other causes.”
But how will the department swap out future patches?
Nason and the Independent paused for a moment to contemplate the image of Bristol police officers sewing patches on their uniform sleeves, then removing them with a seam ripper at the end of a campaign, then sewing new ones on.
“We’ll probably use Velcro on the uniforms,” Nason said.
The patch fundraiser is about more than just helping out causes, Turner said.
“It’s us wanting to be more engaged with the community,” he said.
Chief Nason agreed.
“Our focus is on community policing,” Nason said. “We’re in front of the schools so kids can see us. We try to be out walking a minimum of twice a day. People will often see us and take that opportunity to let us know about things that are going on.”
The BPD is a small department, he added.
“We only have three fulltime officers, but we’re all focused on the community.”
The BPD is hoping to launch another community program in the near future — “Coffee with a Cop,” or maybe “Soda with a Cop” — to provide another avenue to connect police officers with those they serve, Nason said. Details on that program will emerge once public health conditions have improved.
In the meantime, Officer Turner is taking orders — and suggestions for local or Vermont-based nonprofits.
But supplies are limited, he emphasized.
To purchase a commemorative Bristol Police Department patch or recommend a charity, email Turner at [email protected]. Photos of the patches can be found on the BPD’s Facebook page.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].
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