The History Center recently acquired two rare, pre-1865 Fort Wayne Police Department badges for its collection, thanks to the efforts of retired police officer James Stahl and the History Center staff. "Since the acquisition of numerous local law enforcement items in 1985, we have been looking for one of the first police badges used by the Fort Wayne Police," stated Walter Font, History Center curator. "With this acquisition, the Historical Society has a complete set of all the badges used by Fort Wayne police from the 1860s to 2010."
James Stahl, who helped finance the acquisitions, retired from the Fort Wayne Police Department as a Captain in 1980 after twenty years on the force. He has been collecting Fort Wayne and Allen County police paraphernalia since 1974. "I would like to thank Matt Morgan, of the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, who located one of the badges at an antique auction and contacted the History Center to see if they would be interested in it," said Stahl. "I would also like to thank retired police officer Don Stedge, representing the FOP; Friends of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Police Museum; Chief Rusty York; and many others."
"These badges could be considered the 'Holy Grail' of Fort Wayne law enforcement history, since they are extremely rare," said Todd Maxwell Pelfrey, History Center executive director. "Whereas police badges today might number into the thousands for a single department, it speaks to the unimaginably small size of the police department that these two early badges are numbered #14 and #19, issued at a time when there were no more than a few dozen officers on the force," said Pelfrey. "These touchstones to our past are from a time when Fort Wayne was chronically racked with illegal activities to the extent that Chicago Tribune declared Fort Wayne the 'most lawless city in Indiana'."