Quest for kettle cash brings Placer, Auburn, CHP's finest out in force

Salvation Army's needy clientele the beneficiaries in annual Battle of the Badges
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - With bells in their hands and the Christmas spirit in their hearts, personnel from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Auburn Police and California Highway Patrol were out in force Wednesday to help fill Salvation Army Christmas kettles with donations.

The three call the event the Battle of the Badges and it’s a friendly contest to see who can raise the most money. The Sheriff’s Office normally raises the most and the three bring in as much as $10,000 between them during the annual one-day charity drive.

The Sheriff’s Office showed its resolve to hold onto the Battle of the Badges fundraising title with a show of strength that not only included bell-ringing deputies but a visit by the equine unit’s Cash, an even-tempered palomino that was a hit with kids and adults entering and exiting the North Auburn Bel Air Market store.

“You have to bring out the big guns,” Lt. Kevin Borden said. “It makes law-enforcement more approachable. You have kids going up and petting the horses and adults, too.”

Just after 11 a.m., the sheriff’s SWAT team pulled up in its armored vehicle and dropped off a $100 donation collected among team members.

Lt. Darrell Steinhauer said the donation was a first from the group.

“It’s in the spirit of the holidays and our way of giving back to those who are less fortunate,” Steinhauer said.

The Auburn office of the California Highway Patrol had a less showy presence at the other Bel Air entrance. Four days to retirement, Officer Jay Van Dyck was enjoying the chance to not only interact with Auburn residents but also show off his veteran bell-ringing skills.

“It’s all in the wrist,” Van Dyck said.

Auburn office Capt. Joe Whiteford said it was the first time for him ringing bells for a kettle campaign. The Battle of the Badges is indicative of the camaraderie of the three law-enforcement agencies in South Placer, he said.

“This is the first time I’ve been at a Highway Patrol office that did something like this,” Whiteford said. “Law enforcement supports each other here and we get a lot of support from citizens.”

Volunteer Bill Murphy was representing Auburn Police in front of Save-Mart on Tuesday morning.

“I got the call at the last minute to do this and I said ‘Absolutely,’” Murphy said. “I’m a first-time bell-ringer but I’ve volunteered to do a lot of other things over the years.”

Murphy downplayed the competitive nature of the Battle of the Badges.

“It’s all for the same cause,” Murphy said. “We have one goal.”

Retired Auburn Salvation Army Major Ed Loomis was helping with his fifth annual Battle of the Badges.

“We can’t say enough about how much we appreciate this and the wonderful folks who came out for us,” Loomis said.