Originally created 12/01/99

Youngster discovers old badge



WHITESBURG, Ga. -- Cody Allman, 6, brought mystery and intrigue to his first-grade show-and-tell class when he displayed a Chicago police officer's badge and credentials that had been missing for 39 years.

Cody found the leather case containing Patrolman Robert M. Jones' badge and picture identification months ago near his home in Whitesburg, 35 miles southwest of Atlanta. The case had been unearthed at a construction site.

"It was on top of the dirt," he said. "I knew it was a policeman's, so I took it home and kept it there until I brought it to school. When I found it, I was real excited."

His decision to bring the badge to Whitesburg Elementary School set off a flurry of activity.

Cody's teacher showed the leather case to Mike Strong, an anti-drug instructor with Carroll County Sheriff's Department, who was in a nearby classroom.

A telephone call to Chicago determined that the badge was real and had been reported missing in 1960. So Deputy Strong decided the badge should be returned to Chicago police.

When Cody got home from school, "I asked him what they thought of the badge," said his mother, Joy, "and he said, `Mama, they kept it."'

Cody found the badge while he and some friends were playing at the end of his street. He brought the case, covered with mud, home to his mother for a closer look.

"I just wiped it off so we could see the picture," his mother said. "It looked like it was real."

Cody was excited that the laminated ID card offered a $10 reward for anyone returning the badge. But Deputy Strong later learned from Chicago police that the department no longer offers the reward.

Deputy Strong said he will work something out with Cody. In the meantime, he replaced the badge with a plastic Carroll County Junior Deputy badge.

Efforts to locate Patrolman Jones, who would be 78 if still living, have been unsuccessful.

It also remains a mystery how the badge ended up in Whitesburg, 761 miles from Chicago. But Cody has a theory.

"I think he dropped it," Cody said.