For many law enforcement departments across Minnesota, the state's new flag and seal likely will mean changes to their own badges, patches, squad car decals and assorted emblems as the old symbols are phased out.

Barring legislative tweaking, the new seal and flag will become official in 2024 now that the State Emblems Redesign Commission has finished its work. But the current flag and seal are emblems for dozens of public safety agencies statewide, and officials are starting to think through those changes.

Minnesota's current seal — showing a white settler plowing a field while a Native American man on horseback rides into the sunset — is "on every patch on every single shirt," said Roseville Deputy Police Chief Joe Adams. "It's on our badge, and on all of our squad cars. All of our random insignia around the police department. Flags and brochures and business cards, and on and on and on."

Though some departments worry about the cost of swapping out their seal-emblazoned emblems — a single police badge can cost more than $100 — Adams sees new police insignia as an opportunity to make new connections with residents, through a redesign process with community input. He likes the idea of using more city-specific images on the department's uniforms and cars, like the sailboat on Minneapolis' police patches or the State Capitol building on St. Paul's.

Rice County Sheriff Jesse Thomas is looking around at everything in his department that displays the old state seal, from business cards to a carving in its memorial wall.

"I don't think people think of what all needs to change when they change something else," he said.

Thomas estimated that new patches for officers' uniforms could cost about $6,600. Replacing their badges, he said, could run as high as $10,000. "It's going to be very costly," he said. "I don't see that the state is giving us any money."

Some departments are talking with badge-making companies about what it would take to swap out the old seal for the new one on existing badges, which is potentially a less-costly option, said Sartell Police Chief Brandon Silgjord. He guessed the cost of switching everything in the 25-person department just outside St. Cloud could cost $20,000 to $30,000.

"We want to be as compliant with the new seal as we can be, but also be cognizant of budgets," Silgjord said.

The statute establishing the new seal does include guidance on phasing out the old one, said Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for Minnesota Management and Budget.

For example, the law says disposable items such as stationery with the old state seal can be used up before ordering the updated version, he said. More permanent displays, such as a monument carved with the old seal, may remain until they need to be replaced.

While there will be a cost attached to replacing the old seal and flag with the new ones, Hogan said he thought it would be spread out over a few years. "It's not like all of the expenditure would happen at once," he said.

Maple Grove Police Cmdr. Jonathan Wetternach said his department will start looking at what might need to be changed right away, and what can be phased in over time. How much to change immediately is uncertain, he said.

"Is it a chance to rebrand everything, or do we swap out one seal with the other?" Wetternach said. "I guess we haven't made that decision yet."

In Roseville, Adams said consistent badging across the department is important. "We don't want ... some of our officers wearing one patch and some officers wearing another," he said.

The $35,000 budget for the State Emblems Redesign Commission's work seemed reasonable, Silgjord said, but he wondered how much legislators considered the cost to local governments of switching out the old emblems for the new. He hopes lawmakers will provide funding to make the changes or give them time enough to retire the old symbols so annual budget adjustments are incremental.

But waiting until gear and equipment bearing the old seal wear out could drag out the switch of insignia for years, perhaps even decades, he said.

"If you're kind to your equipment, the badge can last your entire career. So it could be a 30-year attrition process," Silgjord said.