FORSYTH - A Rosebud County deputy sheriff's badge thought to be around 100 years old is back in its home department after being discovered nearly 1,000 miles away, thanks to the generosity of a fellow law-enforcement officer.
"It's pretty surprising to see somebody take the initiative to reach out on that," said Rosebud County Undersheriff Scott McDermott. "You’d think a lot of people would want to keep that for themselves."
McDermott received an email back in February from Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Trey Sheets, who had come upon the unique item.
"My mother and father were in Amarillo, Texas at a flea market," Sheets said in a video call with MTN News. "They went in and found a box, paid about $20 for it. Then they took it home and in the corner of the box, they found the badge."
The badge is still in remarkably good shape, with 'Deputy Sheriff' and 'Rosebud Co. Montana' all visible. Sheets’ parents figured he would want it given his line of work.
"I always wanted to be in law enforcement as a small child," he said. "I was a deputy sheriff for five years, and then joined Highway Patrol in 2002. So I've spent over 25 years in law enforcement."
So he understood what the badge could mean to its original home.
"That fraternal bond plays into it," McDermott said. "You understand on a different level the significance of something like that to an agency."
"He offered to pay for it," Sheets said of his conversation with McDermott. "I said, 'No, don’t worry about it. It'll be a donation to your department because it’s a part of your history."
The badge was not only sent back to Rosebud County, but the two traded some patches and challenge coins, welcome additions to the Rosebud department’s collection.
Then McDermott got to work, trying to trace the badge’s history. There is a poster of all the Rosebud County sheriffs on a wall inside the department's building, and 1914 Sheriff John Vander Pouwer is wearing a badge that closely resembles it - with six sides and round balls on the tips - meaning this one could be over 100 years old.
It’ll soon live in the front display case, as they continue to work on its heritage. The best possible outcome? Finding a personal connection.
"If they could get it to a family member, one that had been looking for that badge, that would be amazing to me," Sheets said.