atm-logoWhy do some sheriff’s and marshal’s badges have five points or six points?

Pam Stockton
Mountain Home, Arkansas

Peace officers, then and now, can design their own badges. In frontier towns, they often made badges out of materials at hand that ranged from silver coins to lids off tin cans, hence “tin star.” Although the five-pointed star is the most common of these designs, some agencies had six-, seven-, eight- or nine-point stars for badges. Historically, a five-pointed star supposedly imparted magical powers that deflected evil. A soldier wore one around his neck, believing it would protect him from enemy arrows. Of course, that didn’t always work.


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.  If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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