One night last year, Burnsville police responded to a seemingly routine burglary alarm at an auto business. They didn’t know it at the time, but their actions would be at least partly responsible for an upgrade to the department’s 50-year-old badges.

First Wheels Leasing owner Tim Fogarty was impressed by the officers, who crawled under an 18-inch opening into a garage holding dozens of his company’s trucks to investigate whether any criminals were present — they weren’t.

“I don’t think a mouse could have hid here that night,” Fogarty said of the thorough search.

Fogarty later approached the department about donating money. Around that time, a police committee concluded that the department needed to refresh the badge worn by police officers since 1964.

One $6,000 gift later, Burnsville police now sport new oval badges made from gunmetal. The state seal is more pronounced, its colors are more vibrant and the city’s name also takes on a more prominent spot sprawled across the badge’s top.

“It’s an excellent morale booster … for the officers to get a new look but also know there’s people in the community that support you,” Burnsville Police Chief Eric Gieseke said.

The change wouldn’t likely have been possible without Fogarty’s donation, Gieseke said. Fogarty likened the gift to paying a tax and knowing with certainty where the money went.

“It just seemed somebody has to recognize what these guys do and give them credit for it,” Fogarty said.

Anniversary badges

Other nearby departments that recently celebrated 50th anniversaries have worn commemorative badges, but only temporarily.

Eagan police are wearing a badge this year marking the department’s recent 50th anniversary. Also made of gunmetal, the badge symbolizes past and present: the original constable’s star-shaped badge in the center and the border reflects the design of the modern badge.

The badge Apple Valley police wore last year to mark the department’s 50th anniversary incorporated elements of the old Lebanon Township badge, according to Police Chief Jon Rechtzigel.

Still others are waiting for their own 50-year milestones to consider changing their badges. For departments like Lakeville police, that means waiting until 2031. And then?

“We would like to have a badge that reflects our past and future,” Deputy Chief John Kornmann said.