What Do Different Patch Shapes Mean?

A police officer stands by a construction zone.

According to the National Sources of Law Enforcement Employment Data, there are over 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers serving in the United States. That figure, the highest it’s ever been, means that the force is growing. Of course, the officers are spread across various law enforcement agencies, which creates a need for various uniforms with custom patching. Whether you’re just curious about the meaning behind different patch shapes, or you’re looking to implement a shape into your department’s uniform, this post will help you understand the different patch shapes and what they mean. 


Tombstones: Memorial, Grief 


Patches shaped like tombstones usually carry sentimental messages about a lost loved one. They mimic the stone markers you see on graves and are nothing more than a memorial. As a police or sheriff’s department, you may opt for this emblem shape if you wish to honor a serviceman who lost his life on the battlefield. It would go a long way toward showing solidarity from within the force. 


Tabs (Squares & Rectangles): Formality, Also Casualness 


When a patch is either square or rectangular, it symbolizes a particular degree of formalism. On the other hand, they could carry a simple, casual message, depending on who is using them. For example, when your department fits a rectangle patch showing the American flag, it gives a formal touch to the uniform. 


Shields: Formality, Loyalty to the Force 


Most police and fire departments have shields embroidered in their uniform as a message of their subscription to the force. Together with tab shapes, shield patches give the uniform a particular neatness, which explains why many law enforcement agencies prefer them. 


Since you now know the meaning of different shapes, perhaps you’re ready to design a new patch for your department. Whether you already know what shape and design you’d like, or you need assistance from our graphic design team, we will help you pick the optimal size and design so your department can have a new look that reflects your mission and vision.