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Sergeant
Major
Command
Sergeant
Major
2nd
Lieutenant
1st
Lieutenant
Captain
Major
Some police departments may use
these insignias for special recognition
such as Master Police Officer; Police
Officer First Class; Trooper First Class,
etc.  These ranks may, or may not,
carry any additional authority or higher
pay grade within the structure.
The rank of corporal is not universal
throughout police departments.  
However, the rank does carry
supervisory authority.  The corporal will
normally act as the squad or unit
supervisor when the sergeant is on
leave or otherwise unavailable.
The three stripe sergeant insignia is
the most common sergeant rank
among police departments.  The
sergeant is normally the first line of
supervision.  
The lieutenant rank is universal among
police departments.  The majority of
departments have only one lieutenant
insignia.  Whether the bar is gold or
silver is simply a matter of choice.  
Again, a few departments may use
both to distinguish rank with the silver
being the higher rank.
The captain rank is usually the highest
rank earned through a competitive civil
service process. The captain is usually
the first line of command.  In some
departments, the captain may be
referred to by another title such as
"inspector."
The rank of major and above are all
command ranks, and they are usually
appointed by the police chief to serve
at his or her pleasure.  Police officers
who achieve these ranks usually have
considerable political support from
outside the police department.
The colonel insignia is popular.  You'll
often see police chiefs wearing this
insignia.  In larger departments where
people are designated as chiefs of
various functions, you'll see more of
these.
There's no standard here.  If you see a chief of
police with one star, you won't see any other star
insignias in that department.  If the chief wears four
stars, you may see one to three stars on the collars
of some of that department's other top
commanders.
Lieutenant
Colonel
Colonel
Major
General
General
In a small department, the chief can wear any
insignia he or she wants.  In larger police
departments where tradition is more entrenched, or
where changing insignias would simply cause too
much confusion, the chief may not have as much
latitude.

The next time you're watching the news where
there's a press conference involving multiple police
jurisdictions, check the insignias of the police
chiefs.  You'll notice that if there's three chiefs,
there may well be three different insignias.
Brigadier
General
Lieutenant
General
I've only seen the five star insignia once, but I'm
sure it's worn by more than a few police chiefs.  It's
almost always a matter of choice.
I've linked you to pages at the Department of
Defense where you can view all the officer and
enlisted insignias used by the Army; Navy, Coast
Guard; Marines, and Air Force.
Corporal
Sergeant
Master
Sergeant
First
Sergeant
The Relationship Between Police and
Military Rank Insignias
When you see a soldier with no insignia of rank on
his or her uniform, it tells you that soldier has no
authority over anyone.  It's not that way with a
police officer.

Every sworn police officer is vested with full
authority under the law.  Just because you see no
insignia of rank, that observation should not make
you believe his or her authority is diminished in any
way. The lowest ranking police officer has exactly
the same authority under the law as does the
highest ranking sworn member of that police
department.
"Just because you see no insignia of rank, that
observation should not make you believe his or
her authority is diminished in any way."
~ Barry M. Baker
Police Rank
Insignias
General
of the
Army
You probably won't see these sergeant
insignias that frequently.  

When you do see them, they simply
indicate ascending rank by the number
of chevrons on the bottom of the
insignia.

Some state police agencies, which are
more military oriented, may utilize
these multiple sergeant ranks.
Sergeant
First Class
Staff
Sergeant
Sergeant
Major
of the
Army
Private
First Class
The Stars
This is a really interesting article describing rank
insignias from the beginning of the Republic to the
present.
Identifying Police Rank Insignias
The best way for you to identify rank insignias used
by police departments is to familiarize yourself with
the enlisted and officer insignias of the United
States Army.  Nearly all police departments use the
same insignias.
Private E2
Police Officer
Rank Insignias
As in the military, the police department rank
structure is designed for supervisory; management,
and command functions.  In the military, the rank of
corporal through the ascending sergeant ranks are
supervisory functions.  Second and first lieutenants
and captains are company grade ranks, and they
can be compared to management.  Major through
the colonel ranks are field grade officers, and they
can be compared to command.

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