Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway is putting his mark on his department, beginning by changing the star that he and his deputies wear and that is the centerpiece of signs in offices and on the sides of vehicles.
Pettway, who unseated 20-year Sheriff Mike Hale in November, has a badge that has his name on the front. Hale’s star also had his name on the star. Changing the star is customary when a new sheriff is elected.
Captain David Agee, the department’s public information officer, said each new badge costs $50. With 550 sworn deputies, that brings the cost to $27,500.
“We will have the money to cover it with the adjustments that the sheriff has made to our current budget,” Agee said. “We also have as an alternative a discretionary fund if we need to cover it with it.”
The painting of signs on buildings and vehicles is covered under a preexisting maintenance contract, Agee said.
“We went to a 6-pointed star (because) we wanted to make changes throughout the whole department,” Pettway said. “We want to put my mark on everything, so we changed the star from a 5-pointed star to a 6-pointed star.”
Pettway’s 6-pointed star is similar to the Star of David, which is a generally recognized as the symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism. The sheriff said he could have opted for that star.
“I do have a religious message on my vehicle,” the sheriff said. “It just says, ‘In God I trust,’ which I do. But otherwise it’s just the star. It symbolizes law enforcement.”
Deputy Ernest Watford has been with the department nearly 28 years. He recalled a previous badge change.
“We did have a badge that did have the seal on it but it was red,” Watford said. “We went back from the red seal on the badge to just the gold star.”