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The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 23, June 5, 2022, Article 29

MARYLAND CHALLENGE COIN PROMPTS PROTESTS

This piece from The Baltimore Sun describes, but does not illustrate a controversial challenge coin of currently unknown origin including the insignia of the Maryland State Police. Other stories online discuss their wording and sale of the pieces on eBay. -Editor

A challenge coin with graphic imagery and offensive language, emblazoned with the Maryland State Police logo, is prompting concerns from troopers who see it as a potential response to allegations of racial discrimination within the agency.

Photos of the coin obtained by The Baltimore Sun show two images of female anatomy with slogans referencing people being offended, or not being able to take a joke. One side of the coin, with an image of a woman's rear end, depicts underwear with the message, I'm Offended.

Both sides of the coin appear to include the insignia for the state police.

Maryland State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo said in an emailed statement Thursday that the agency was investigating the coin's creation, including to determine whether someone in the department was involved with the design, manufacturing/purchase or sale of the coins. Russo's statement said the agency became aware of it Jan. 19, but has been unable to identify the individual responsible for this violation of Department policy.

Challenge coins are tokens that people in organizations such as law enforcement agencies or the military collect to commemorate events or membership. They have led to controversies in other police departments, including a coin circulated among Phoenix police officers that appeared to mock an injured protester and coins depicting civil unrest connected to agencies in Milwaukee and Louisville, Kentucky.

The coin also prompted concern from the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, an organization that helped cofound the 30x30 initiative to boost the number of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030.

In a statement, NAWLEE executive director Kym Craven called the coins offensive and said the association was available to agencies to assist with understanding the impact of police culture on the recruitment and retention of women in law enforcement.

The coins are offensive and, no matter who the target audience, the coins undermine women in general, not just in policing, Craven said in a statement. NAWLEE trusts the Maryland State Police will continue to seek out who is responsible for both producing and distributing the coin, and deal appropriately with the offenders.

Last year, the agency investigated a challenge coin created to commemorate a traffic enforcement campaign dubbed Make Waldorf Great Again that prompted concerns from Black troopers, NBC Washington reported.

Another, in the shape of male genitalia, was investigated in 2020 and led to disciplinary action against the individual found responsible for the creation of the coin, Russo said Thursday.

To read the complete articles, see:
Explicit challenge coin with Maryland State Police logo prompts outcry from Black, female troopers who see ‘complete disrespect' (https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/crime/bs-md-cr-maryland-state-police-challenge-coin-black-troopers-20220602-yqv4ubjz6zanhbh7znurogrbnu-story.html)
Maryland State Police investigate vulgar challenge coins (https://foxbaltimore.com/news/local/maryland-state-police-investigate-after-vulgar-coins-distributed-among-troopers)
Maryland State Police troopers made a challenge coin in retaliation against complaints about racism (https://boingboing.net/2022/06/03/maryland-state-police-troopers-made-a-challenge-coin-in-retaliation-against-complaints-about-racism.html)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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