The History of NYPD Challenge Coins

Rick Cundiff

Rick Cundiff

The History of NYPD Challenge Coins

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has adopted a long-standing practice that honors memorable accomplishments achieved by the men and women in the law enforcement organization’s service, as well as challenges them to continue to strive to reach greater heights. This practice is known as the bestowing of challenge coins. The following short piece chronicles the history of this honor system and the particular types of NYPD Challenge Coins that have been awarded over time.

Origins Of Custom Challenge Coins

In the eyes of some historians, these small achievement-denoting medals have been bestowed since the Roman Empire. However, in more modern times, such coins were awarded to recognize special and/or notable acts of bravery committed in battle and/or during military service.

Challenge coins often also serve as a means of promoting unity, friendly competition, morale and achievement within a specific organization. In such instances, one or more higher ranking members of an outfit or unit who have been awarded a particular coin will challenge lower ranking members to complete a specific challenge. This dare usually takes place in a public venue and very specific rules are laid forth for how the challenge is to be met.

The NYPD Challenge Coin

The men and women of this agency can receive a NYPD Challenge Coin for being a part of various units and/or partaking in several different events.

Some examples include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • The NYPD Critical Response Team.

  • Service at individual precincts.

  • Participation in the rescue and recovery efforts during and following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

  • The NYPD Detective Bureau.

  • Service on various police details.

How NYPD Challenge Coins Are Produced

These medallions are typically crafted by experienced challenge coin crafting companies. Challenge coins are often available for purchase in various sizes and specific designs, images and/or decorations can be etched into them.

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