Honoring Servicemen and Women with Patches

One man's collection boasts more than 6,500 patches.

At first glance, police and firefighters’ uniforms might look a little, well, uniform. But look a little closer at the patches public safety workers wear on their right shoulders, and you’ll see some personality.

Donald Palumbo has long been a fan of patches, often embroidered with symbols of a specific place or unit. A VIN inspector for the Providence police department, Palumbo started his collection at age thirteen, contacting law enforcement both near and far to request patches.

Now, a room in his Pawtucket basement is a tribute to law enforcement from around the world and nearly thirty years of collecting. National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is celebrated this month on January 9 and the patch collection he’s neatly tacked up numbers more than 6,500 from K-9 units, honor guards, the FBI, traffic enforcement and more.

The patches hail from as far away as the New South Wales police force in Australia to the Foxwoods Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation police. And over the years, patches change: The Providence police department’s patch has changed colors about six times over the years. “I still get stuff in the mail,” Palumbo says. “If I’m missing one, I’ll call the city.”

When Palumbo shows his collection to law enforcement officers, “they’re amazed,” he says. Anyone who is interested in seeing Palumbo’s patches can contact him at 486-3408.


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