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Public Safety aims for single symbol

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When Mitch Beckstead went in front of a judge to secure a warrant in 1984, the judge said he thought the Utah Highway Patrol just worked on the freeways.

That's the kind of trouble public perception can be. Now, Beckstead is leading a committee at the behest of Department of Public Safety Commissioner Craig Dearden to find a new symbol that will better define the 1,200 employees and 13 divisions of the department.It is a varied department that includes sworn officers like troopers as well as civilian public employees like those that work in the state's Driver License Division.

The recognizable bright yellow beehive emblazoned with Utah Highway Patrol in block letters is just one of many emblems representing the Department of Public Safety's 13 divisions. The fire marshall's division has its own logo, as does Peace Officers Standard and Training and the Capitol Police, who work at the state's Capitol.

But they are all the same department, which has long confused most people, Beckstead said.

"If you went into the Salt Lake Police Department, you wouldn't see 15 different badges," said Beckstead, who is a lieutenant in the state investigations bureau.

As head of the design committee, Beckstead has to look at the cost of changing the symbols on everything from the shoulder patches to car decals. The beehive is so recognizable and has such "goodwill attached to it," it may be incorporated in some way in the new design, Beckstead said.

The beehive is at the center of the state seal and represents the honey bee's industry.

At first, some UHP troopers were concerned about changing the 60-year-old symbol, but many understand the need for consolidation, committee members say.

"The beehive holds a lot of tradition in the department. There is a lot of pride in it," said Lt. Ken Peay, who was a trooper for 12 years before joining POST. However, among the public "there is definitely a lot of confusion" about the relationship between the divisions.

For the more than 70 uniformed employees of the Driver License Division, confusion has long been a problem. They are not sworn police officers, nor do they go through the police academy, but they wear uniforms similar to UHP troopers. Their badges and patches include an outline of Utah and an eagle.

"Our people don't really care what (symbol) we have, we just want to obtain our own identity," said design committee member and Driver License Division manager Wally Wintle.

Beckstead said he has already seen some great ideas for the design. This week, the department will send out fliers to all its employees asking for their input into the future symbol.

"I've seen 50 different designs," Beckstead said. "This is going to be fun."