The NYPD Flag: Celebrating 100 Years

May 17, 2019

Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill's Remarks at the Ceremony Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Flag of the New York City Police Department

Good morning, everyone, and thank you all for being here.

First off, I want to thank our Ceremonial Unit, its C-O, Lieutenant Tony Giorgio, and everyone who worked to make this ceremony possible. And a special "thank-you" to Sergeant John Schroeder, and all the people who helped him put together today's printed program. I know how much work went into that, and you did a great job — thank you.

Today, we celebrate 100 years of proudly flying the flag of the New York City Police Department. In that time, our distinct banner has flown at sites across our city, been carried across battlefields, and has adorned the coffins of our fallen police officers. It's a powerful symbol of our department, and of membership in our police family. And it holds a position of honor whenever and wherever we gather around it.

The design of this current version of the flag is full of meaning ‐ which you can read about in detail inside your programs. But one thing this 100th anniversary means is that this flag, and this department, have been around for a long time.

And in that time, our NYPD flag has proudly flown amid vast changes in this great city, and in this country — the kind of changes that people 100 years ago could never have imagined: Over the past century, it has weathered economic collapses and recoveries, world war and cold war, sweeping social and cultural upheaval, terror attacks, natural disasters, extraordinary advances in technology, and much, much more.

But one constant through it all has been the NYPD.

This flag represents what this police department means to the people of our city. And it serves as a visible reminder that we will always be here, protecting our neighborhoods, and doing everything possible to keep everyone safe. That's something that will never change — and that's the foundation of pride upon which our flag is raised.

So we salute it on its 100th anniversary and everyday hereafter — because, at its core, it represents us: all the hardworking people — past, present, and future — who make up the greatest police department in the world.

Thank you again for being here, have a great day, and always stay safe.

About the NYPD Flag

May 17, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the New York City Police Department flag. The department unveiled its official flag on May 17, 1919, at the annual police parade honoring NYPD veterans of World War I. Previous flags — such as a small blue standard with the seal of the city at its center — were carried by police regiments of the Union Army during the Civil War.

Our flag is modeled after the United States flag: The 5 white and green bars represent the boroughs of New York, while the 24 stars represent the disparate cities, towns, and villages incorporated into the City of New York in 1898.

The color green celebrates the history of New York law enforcement and can be traced back to 1658, when the New Amsterdam night watchmen — the city's first paid police force — carried lanterns with green glass.

Over the past century, the current NYPD flag has flown during the tenures of 18 U.S. presidents, 16 New York City mayors, and 31 NYPD police commissioners.