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YOU CAN’T JUDGE AN OFFICER BY HIS BADGE

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Manatee County, Florida, Sheriff Charlie Wells has some advice for footpads, killers and other bad guys - he and his men can arrest them despite a court ruling that their badges do not meet official standards.

"The badge is just another symbol of identification. We also have ID cards and uniforms," the sheriff said. "I can arrest, and any of my deputies can arrest, in their boxer shorts if they want to."The court ruling came Tuesday in the case of a former deputy charged with illegally displaying a sheriff's badge and impersonating a police officer. Circuit Judge Tom Gallen said Manatee County sheriff's badges do not comply with state law.

Therefore, prosecutors cannot use an official Manatee badge as evidence against former Deputy Don Whalen, 38, because it wouldn't be a legal badge.

The law says sheriff's badges in all 67 Florida counties must be in the shape of a five-pointed star with the state seal and map superimposed on them.

Manatee badges, in use for morel than 20 years, meet those specifications but also are surrounded by a wreath and topped with an eagle.