Heritage, 2008, Volume 2 Page: 13
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5Ae 3Jis and (utls, aof Jioding a
heexac Law &nfrcement a adge , A
For those readers who are wondering whether it's illegal to own a law enforce- VI
ment badge, Byron Johnson, executive director of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
Museum in Waco, says Texas laws regarding that issue can be confusing. "Not only
are the state, county, and municipal statutes difficult to understand, but they some- RARE B&
times seem contradictory." C
The Texas law, reprinted below, applies only to Texas Ranger and Department of
Public Safety badges. Johnson notes, though, that the law does have some loopholes. iotum
"In the past, if a Texas Ranger or someone possessing a Ranger badge gave the
piece away, or the badge was purchased prior to 1987, it can be privately held, ,
passed down, or donated. But it cannot be sold or traded," he said. Pre-1961 badges z; rcliva
are legally exempt from this statute.
Further complicating the understanding of this law, Johnson pointed out that in
many cases it is perfectly legal to buy, sell, and trade those badges that do not , ,,
resemble the ones currently used by law enforcement personnel.
He also issued a word of caution to those interested in having a law enforcement y
badge: "Ninety-nine percent of those on the market are fakes." He added that the
current design of the Texas Ranger badge has been in use since 1961-62.
Texas Government Code Sec. 411.017 1
Unauthorized Acts Involving Department Name, Insignia, or Division Name
(a) A person commits an offense if, without the director's authorization, the person:
(1) manufactures, sells, or possesses a badge, identification card, or other item bearing a
department insignia or an insignia deceptively similar to the department's;
(2) makes a copy or likeness of a badge, identification card, or department insignia, with
intent to use or allow another to use the copy or likeness to produce an item bearing the
department insignia or an insignia deceptively similar to the department's; or
(3) uses the term 'Texas Department of Public Safety," "Department of Public Safety,"
'Texas Ranger," or 'Texas Highway Patrol" in connection with an object, with the intent to cre- o
ate the appearance that the object belongs to or is being used by the department.
(b) In this section, "department insignia" means an insignia or design prescribed by the
director for use by officers and employees of the department in connection with their official
activities. An insignia is deceptively similar to the department's if it is not prescribed by the '.
department but a reasonable person would presume that it was prescribed by the department.
(c) A district or county court, on application of the attorney general or of the district attorney
or prosecuting attorney performing the duties of district attorney for the district in which
the court is located, may enjoin a violation or threatened violation of this section on a show- .'
ing that a violation has occurred or is likely to occur. LT H7 I
(d) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this section that the object is used -
(1) for decorative purposes, maintained or preserved in a decorative state, and not offered A h
for sale; or
(2) in an artistic or dramatic presentation, and before the use of the object the producer
of the presentation notifies the director in writing of the intended use, the location where the
use will occur, and the period during which the use will occur.L
(e) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, unless the object is shipped by
United States mail or by any type of commercial carrier from a point outside the State of Texas
to a point inside the state if the shipper or his agent has been sent notification by registered
United States mail of this section prior to the shipment, in which event the offense is a felony
of the third degree.
Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 147, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st
Leg., ch. 496, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.
HERITAGE Volume 2 2008
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2008, Volume 2, periodical, 2008; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45358/m1/13/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.