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NYC Police Department, New York (U.S.)

Last modified: 2011-10-21 by rick wyatt
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[NYC Police Department flag] image by Blas Delgado Ortiz, 27 June 2001

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Description of the flag

During the year 1919, the Police Flag, representative of the Police Department of the City of New York, was adopted.

The disposition of the Jack and stripes is that consecrated in American tradition by National colors. The five alternate bars of white and brilliant green have been chosen to symbolize the five boroughs of Greater New York.

The original group of villages, towns and cities which have by coalescence formed the Greater City of New York are placed in circular constellation of white stars upon the field of the Jack. The cities form the center of this constellation, the towns surround the cities, villages lie in an outer circle about the towns - and these stars reposing in unbroken order have been set upon a field of deep blue - the color of the uniform by which the guardians of our security and order are daily recognized by the millions who are within the shielding of their vigilance and strength. The fringes and tassels of gold, the blue field and the white stars and stripes, bring all the colors of our City Flag in this, our Police Flag.

The brilliant green is the traditional and sentimental Police color.

Dov Gutterman, 9 April 1999

The U.S. blue color for police is said to derive from the fact that many departments were formally organized after the Civil War; many of the policemen were returning soldiers who wore their blue uniforms on the job. Blue wouldn't be used in opposition to the Army colors (as in the UK, scarlet), as the U.S. armed forces were always blue (in opposition to the UK, perhaps).

The NYPD flag uses both blue and green, explaining that blue is for the uniform and green is a "traditional and sentimental police color." I think part of that may stem from heavy Irish representation on U.S. police departments (poor immigrants, mid-1800's, drawn to "lower class" jobs). To this day, there are green lights outside NYPD buildings.

Nathan Lamm, 15 April 2003

24 Stars

Based on History of New York City subdivisions, the 24 stars represent all of the cities, towns, and incorporated villages (unincorporated villages are not represented) that were amalgamated into the City of Greater New York (this was the official name for the first few years) in 1898.

The inner circle of three stars represents the cities:

  • New York City, then already including what is today the Bronx.
  • The City of Brooklyn, which had by then absorbed the whole of Kings County.
  • Long Island City in Queens County.
The middle circle of nine stars represents the towns:
  • In Queens County, Newtown, Flushing, Jamaica, and the Rockaway Peninsula of the Town of Hempstead.
  • In Richmond County, Castleton, Northfield, Southfield, Westfield, and Middletown.
The outer circle of twelve stars represents the incorporated villages:
  • In Queens County:
    • In Flushing, the Village of Flushing, College Point, and Whitestone.
    • In Jamaica, the Village of Jamaica and Richmond Hill.
    • In the Rockaway Peninsula of the Town of Hempstead, Far Rockaway, Rockaway Beach, and Averne-by-the-Sea.
  • In Richmond County:
    • Coterminous with Castleton, New Brighton.
  • In Northfield, Port Richmond.
  • In Middletown, Edgewater.
  • In Westfield, Tottenville.
Richard Knipel, 18 July 2004

The page at gives a list that somewhat differs from what we settled on above.
Nathan Lamm, 11 March 2005

I wonder what the source is for the Police Museum's list? With all respect for that institution, in this one regard I am very seriously skeptical about the accuracy of the list as shown on their webpage. If it were accurate it would be inexplicable on an historical basis and render meaningless the supposed symbolism of the stars. The differences between their list and ours are:

  • they omit the Town of Castleton and substitute the Town of North Hempstead; however Castleton did become part of the City of New York at the time of the 1898 consolidation while North Hempstead has *never* been a part of NYC
  • they omit the villages of New Brighton, Port Richmond, Edgewater, and Tottenville, substituting the Village of Hempstead, New Utrecht, Flatbush and Gravesend; the 4 villages we show (all on Staten Island) were in existence at the time of consolidation while the Village of Hempstead has *never* been a part of NYC [a portion of the Town of Hempstead did join NYC, but that was not the part including the Village of Hempstead, and had already been accounted for under the towns' stars], and New Utrecht, Flatbush and Gravesend were not in existence at the time of consolidation, having been previously absorbed into the City of Brooklyn.
  • they misspell Arverne and omit the "Beach" from Rockaway Beach

Ned Smith, 14 March 2005