In 1972, Gary Teragawa visited his Flea Market with his aunt. It was at that flea market where he found his first police badge.
“It was a San Francisco police badge, and I think I bought it for $5 at the time,” said Teragawa, “but $5 was a lot of money back then.”
Today, Teragawa has collected thousands of police badges, and patches. He has also become an instrumental contributor with Police Memorabilia Collectors alike.
“I have collected badges from all over the place,” said Teragawa.
However, his specialty is the San Francisco Police Department and the California Highway Patrol.
“These badges are all numbered, so I am able to do the research and find information on the particular badge,” Teragawa added.
Teragawa’s collection is more about the history, than the collection in itself.
“CHP Commissioner, Dwight ‘Spike’ Helmick got me interested in the history of the badges,” Teragawa commented, “he said, ‘if your going to collect it, you should know about who used it, where it was used, and when’.”
Since then Teragawa has made it his mission to collect as much information on his items as possible.
One of Teragawa’s prized collection pieces is the badge for Jessie Brown Cook, Chief Police Commissioner for the San Francisco Police Department in the 1860’s.
Teragawa is a member of the California Law Enforcement Historical Society and most recently he was named the Police Historian of the Year for 2013.
“I am very honored to have received this award,” said Teragawa, “It means a lot to me.”
A plaque was presented Gary Teragawa at the California Law Enforcement Historical Society annual meeting held in San Luis Obispo on July 12, 2014.
Each year the California Law Enforcement Historical Society selects one person who has distinguished themselves through the preservation of law enforcement history. The requirements may be met in a variety of ways including documenting history, collecting and preserving artifacts and the exhibition of historic materials.
Gary Teragawa was selected from a slate of nominees primarily based on his extraordinary exhibition of law enforcement badges. He is a charter member of the California Law
Enforcement Historical Society and a regular attendee of law enforcement memorabilia collectors shows and events.
In addition to Teragawa’s California Highway Patrol and San Francisco Police Department Collection, he has a growing collection of Colusa County Police memorabilia.
“I have a badge from 1895 for Williams Constable, G.D. Forsythe,” said Teragawa, “one of the rarest collection pieces I have is a 1930’s deputy badge.”
In his spare time, Teragawa travels along at flea markets and specialized trade shows seeking out unique badges.
“I came across a Colusa County badge at a trade show in Denver Colorado,” said Teragawa, “You’ll never know where stuff will pop up.”
Teragawa also has written articles and helped fellow collectors on correctly identifying counterfeit badges. ■