Salmon leap onto fresh police patch
January 4, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah Police Department unveils new patch designed by highlands resident
The officers in blue had started to look a little blasé.
So, the Issaquah Police Department asked residents to redesign the patch the agency had used for more than 25 years.
The result: The updated patch features a jumping salmon rendered in electric hues and set against a blue backdrop meant to pop against the uniforms’ dark navy. Police Chief Paul Ayers announced the updated patch Dec. 31.
The designer is Issaquah Highlands resident Tim Bissmeyer, a project manager at CollinsWoerman, the architecture firm behind the Swedish Medical Center campus under construction in the highlands.
“I wanted to do something that was pretty simple and not too complicated, and it just naturally kind of drew me to the salmon,” he said.
The prize: $250 from the city Arts Commission for crafting the design and a long-term installation of the artwork on the shoulders of uniformed Issaquah officers.
The police department plans to phase in the patch as officers order uniform coats, coveralls and shirts in the months ahead.
The agency set out to find a fresh patch in the summer, as the supply of existing insignia started to shrink.
The police department put out a call for submissions in July. The agency offered artists templates for a half-dozen patch shapes and a series of criteria for the patch.
Salmon emerges as common theme
Then, after the September deadline, the Arts Commission considered 10 entries.
The early designs ranged in skill from professional graphic designers to Issaquah School District students. The creations all depicted nature in some form and most, perhaps unsurprisingly, included a representation of salmon.
City Arts Coordinator Amy Dukes said all of the artists resided in King County, and most happened to be Issaquah residents.
In late fall, department officers and employees scrutinized the design and cast ballots for a favorite. The salmon Bissmeyer had sketched emerged as the clear frontrunner.
“Whether they liked it or disliked it, it was still their patch now,” Ayers said. “It wasn’t someone else’s patch. It didn’t mirror all of the other local patches.”
Bissmeyer had noticed the call for submissions on the municipal website.
He sketched the initial idea by hand and then loaded the rough draft into a digital design program, but he said he did not care for the salmon rendered in pixels. So, he sketched another fish, scanned the image and combined the hand-drawn and digital elements.
Ayers called Bissmeyer about a month ago to announce the selection and to discuss some color changes needed to fine-tune the design.
“I guess at that point I realized that we had a winning entry,” Bissmeyer said. “I was taken by surprise, to be honest.”
Salmon joins the force
The updated design eschews the oblong shape of the old patch for a crest. The result is slimmer and taller.
The old patch depicts a lake — Lake Sammamish, perhaps — against a backdrop of a sunrise or a sunset. The illustration has a problem: The scene depicted on the patch cannot be found in Issaquah.
The jumping salmon on the updated insignia is a safer bet.
“After 25 years, it was time to update our patch with a fresh, new look,” Ayers said. “The salmon design was easy to identify, and a great representation of the community we protect and serve.”
The iconic salmon — depicted in mid-leap — did not come as a surprise.
“It was a patch that seemed to represent Issaquah, and that’s what we were looking for,” Ayers said. “We figured whatever we received, it would have a salmon of some sort in it.”
The police department has a history of — pardon the pun — colorful patches.
Early Issaquah patches featured a headdress-bedecked American Indian chief. The problem: The feathered headdress belonged to a Great Plains tribe.
The next patch featured a stylized I, but the design resembled, ahem, a backside at a quick glance.
Then, the agency placed the generic sunrise-or-sunset patch into service more than 25 years ago.
Design for decades
The police department purchases embroidered patches in bulk and, as the last supply of the old patches diminished, Ayers opted for a fresh approach.
“The timing of it was a good opportunity to look at a patch that would represent the police department and the city of Issaquah closer than the other one did,” he said. “Most police patches represent the community and the area they police. That’s what we were looking to have.”
The agency has arranged for Seattle-based Blumenthal Uniforms to incorporate the updated patch into future attire.
Officers could don the salmon patch for decades to come — something Bissmeyer kept in mind during the design process. The skills he gained by dabbling in graphic design and photography came to the fore during the project.
“A salmon is timeless — and with the longevity of each previously designed patch, I wanted to create a design that wouldn’t be outdated within a few years,” he said. “Also, when you look around the community, a salmon image is used quite frequently.”
The timelessness could come in useful as the patch ages.
“If history repeats itself, then yeah, it could hang around for a few years or so,” he said.
What to know
The updated patch design for the Issaquah Police Department is meant to convey a sense of place. Residents can check out more than 200 patches from other law enforcement agencies from across the Evergreen State in the lobby at City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.