NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — This Memorial Day weekend, the New Bedford Police Department is launching a fun new challenge that should have residents scouring the city for a chance to win some unique prizes.

Lt. Scott Carola came up with the idea,

“In my capacity with the police department, every once in a while I get to get involved with some fun things, have some ideas the chief lets me run with,” he said. “This is something fun for the summer that we’re going to begin this coming Memorial Day.”

Carola has designed the department’s first-ever challenge coin, featuring the New Bedford Police logo on one side and the lighthouse and whaler that have come to symbolize the city on the other.

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media
Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

The challenge coins will be the item that people will be searching for, and it will put the public’s own detective skills to the test.

What Are Challenge Coins?

“Many years ago, I think World War II or even World War I, different infantries, different divisions of the military had these coins that would signify what division or battalion they were in. They were commemorative,” Carola said.

“These soldiers would get R&R, go to a bar, and while they were drinking it up, sometimes one soldier would ask the other, ‘Where’s your challenge coin?’ and if they didn’t have it, they had to buy a round for the bar,” he said.

The practice grew to include law enforcement agencies also adopting the concept of challenge coins, often trading them with other agencies and departments – something New Bedford Police will be doing as well now that they have their own coin.

“The same way some trade patches, challenge coins are another thing we trade,” Carola said.

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The New Bedford Police Challenge Coin Challenge

The public has a chance to get a challenge coin as well.

Starting this weekend, Carola will hide a NBPD challenge coin somewhere in the city. He will then post a clue at about 9 a.m. on Saturday morning on the New Bedford Police Facebook page and Twitter account as to the location of the coin.

“It will either lead you to the coin, or lead to another clue that will lead you to the location of the coin,” he said.

What Can You Win?

The person who finds it will not only get to keep the coin, they’ll also win prizes as well.

“We’ve partnered up with McDonald’s of New Bedford, they’re going to give us some gift certificates, and there are some other nice things the winner can get,” Carola said. ‘They’re going to get their choice of several different options, depending on the age of the winner.”

Those options include experiences such as a ridealong with a New Bedford Police officer, a couple of hours on the firing range with one of the department’s instructors, or a police escort to school, to name a few.

The plan is to hide a coin every few weeks throughout the summer.

“Since this is the first time we’ve ever done it, we’re going to have to adjust as we go along as far as difficulty,” Carola said. “We’ll make the first one a little less difficult, just to get people to join in, but if these coins are found too quickly I’ll have to up the ante and make them harder to find, but it’s always going to be fun.”

It is also a way to build a deeper connection between the police and the residents of the city.

“It’s a great way to make a connection. It’s just a really cool way it seems to get people involved,” Carola said. “And it gives our officers an opportunity to have some fun interactions with people as well.”

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