NEW ORLEANS — It’s a tradition that’s easy to miss, but one that’s been around for more than a century -- and it’s up to Shaun Ferguson, the New Orleans Police Department’s next leader, to continue it if he chooses to do so.

Since the late 1800s, the NOPD’s superintendent has worn his badge -- the unique star and crescent -- upside down. According to the department’s official history, this was done to help people more easily identify him.

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“It is also symbolic in that the Superintendent alone carries the weight and power of the Police Department and has the responsibility to lead,” according to the department.

Almost every NOPD superintendent has continued this tradition, with a few rare exceptions.

Warren Woodfork wore his badge rightside up when he was named superintendent in 1985. His successor, Arnesta Taylor, revived the tradition of the upside-down superintendent badge in 1992.

The next superintendent to break with tradition was Richard Pennington, who joined the NOPD in 1994 and remained in the post until 2002.

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Eddie Compass, revived the tradition. Warren Riley, Ronal Serpas and departing Superintendent Michael Harrison have all kept it alive.

Ferguson will be sworn-in as Harrison’s successor on Friday.

Danny Monteverde can be reached at