Local News

Authorities Concerned About Internet Sales Of Badges

Posted August 19, 2004

— If the price is right, you can own a set of real North Carolina highway patrol badges. They are on sale right now on the Internet. Despite safety and homeland security concerns, it is not against the law.

For $2,500, a set of 11 authentic North Carolina Highway Patrol badges can be yours whether you have ever served as a trooper or not.

"It's kind of suspicious and one of the things we are seeing is how are these badges becoming available," said Sgt. Everett Clendenin, of the state Highway Patrol.

Clendenin said the Highway Patrol is not happy about it. But, under the law, they cannot stop it.

"Our main concern, right now, is that someone doesn't get their hands on these badges and use them inappropriately," he said.

Police in Wilson said that is what Charles Arms was doing. Investigators charged Arms with stealing from elderly people by posing as a cop.

"I feel I have a moral obligation to sell, not only for the protection of law enforcement, but the public," said Al Sutton, who owns Lawmen's Law Enforcement Equipment in Raleigh.

By law, Sutton can sell badges, bluelights, and police insignia to anyone. He chooses only to sell to sworn officers, unlike Web sites like

Policebadge.com

, which is billed as a sales and auction site for law enforcement and collectors.

Sutton said he will not mail equipment to customer's homes. Most merchandise goes straight to law enforcement agencies.

"I think it's better business and when I try to go to sleep at night, it makes it a lot easier for me," Sutton said.

WRAL contacted the administrator of the England-based Policebadge.com by e-mail on Thursday. Gary Murray contends the buyers and sellers are bonafide collectors who are informed of the laws. He said he knows of no one who bought badges from the Web site who ever used them illegally.

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