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Designing Custom Police Challenge Coins

Getting Started With Police Challenge Coins, Only you and your fellow police officers know what exact aesthetic or coin type is best for representing your force.


With many military veterans finding law enforcement a natural career choice after service, it’s no surprise both federal and local police organizations quickly adopted their own custom police challenge coins. In today’s design article, All About Challenge Coins is focusing on inspirations for local police challenge coins to best capture the unique identity or role of your law enforcement organization.

Getting Started With Police Challenge Coins

Only you and your fellow police officers know what exact aesthetic or coin type is best for representing your force. So think about your police force and what these coins are going to represent or mean when you hand them out. Are these coins for the entire police department or representing a specific unit? Do you want a quiet and stoic design that honors an officer’s commitments and responsibilities? Or maybe you want a fun edgy design expressing your unit’s morale and expertise?  These questions will help identify what makes your department or role in the police force unique and make deciding the exact design options or customizations for your police challenge coin much easier. Try to remember through the design process why you’re designing challenge coins for your police department. For example, a challenge coin you’ve designed to honor a fallen officer will have a much more reserved look than a coin you design to give away at a department fundraiser party. Once you’ve got an idea of how you want to use your coins, we can start working on your design’s specifics.

Common Police Coin Design Elements

Police challenge coins honor law enforcement for their service, represent the pride of their profession and remind officers of their responsibilities. Of course, finding the right symbols officers identify with can be a challenge. Fortunately for you, hundreds of police and law enforcement organizations come to us each year and we’ve noticed more than a few common elements that can make it instantly identifiable with law enforcement while still maintaining a department’s unique identity. 

  • The Color Blue: Blue has been the official color of law enforcement for over a century so it’s little surprise many police challenge coins include blue design elements. While blue is near ubiquitous among police challenge coins, how you decide to add or incorporate blue in your design sets it apart and makes it a much stronger symbol. We’ve found it popular among clients to add a single line of blue either in the center or as a large ring around the edge of a coin in reference to the phrase, “the thin blue line.”
  • Police Badges:  A long-rooted sign of authority and respect with as many looks as there are municipalities, unique police badges are issued to nearly every department making them great additions to a coin design as a symbol to unify officers. Many departments want their badges featured as a central design point and often pair them with a department/unit slogan.
  • Police Equipment: From the standard sidearm to handcuffs, there’s more than a few items on the equipment list that are iconic with law enforcement. If you want a quick way to identify a unit’s specific responsibilities, featuring some of your group's most iconic equipment or tools is a simple but impactful way to make a coin specific to your unit. For example, a lot of K-9 Units come to us with designs featuring a favorite police dog from the department and SWAT Teams love to highlight their military tactics by featuring assault rifles and riot shields.
  • Archangel Michael: The Archangel of protection, the Christian Archangel Michael is a common symbol on police challenge coins. From traditional mural-style art to highly-stylized illustrations, many departments throughout the country like to take their own original artistic spin on the archangel.

Localizing Custom Police Coins

Knowing what symbols or designs other police departments use is well and good, but you want your coin to be unique to your department. It’s time to find ways to localize your design and to identify with their recipients not just as police challenge coins, but their police challenge coins. One tip we use for nearly every police coin is to look for ways to incorporate local landmarks or familiar community scenes from your police department’s community. Adding these scenes to a coin not only builds a stronger connection to a community and personalizes it to your department’s role as a community’s protectors. Additionally, instead of using generic or broad police symbols, make room for highly specific emblems, in-jokes, names or plain memes that only officers around a specific station, unit or task force would understand. You want your police coins to represent your unit or officers specifically and Little touches like this make a coin much more personal and identifiable to your local force.  For example, look at this proof of a coin design we made for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police, featuring the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and honoring their Mobile Field Force. The coin was produced in a high-polish sandblasted gold with heavy blue elements framing the edge of the coin and the police emblems. The bridge, located at the center of the design on one side, is an iconic community monument any local would immediately recognize making it perfect for representing the force’s local identity. Additionally, the lightning bolt shield emblem is a unique symbol used solely by the Mobile Field Force, honoring the Mobile Field Force’s responsibilities within the community. The end result is a highly personalized challenge coin, which honors the officer's profession, connects with their specific community and ultimately identifies as a unique symbol of their position and organization. By now, you probably already have a few ideas of how you’d like your coin but if you need more help to get started you can check we’ve collated a number of our favorite police challenge coins to help inspire your coin design. You’ll notice many of them look similar, but every one of them has a unique touch that makes them special to each police department.

The Choice is Yours

Following these design tips and finding an expert manufacturer with years of experience (Hint: We’ve been at this for over a decade) will ensure your coin design not only looks great but looks right for your law enforcement organization. From color options to custom shapes, All About Challenge Coins is your coin source for expert design and quality service. Request a free quote from us today to get started!

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