CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - Former City of Houston police officer Eric Hillman has a habit that he has carrier from Houston to Crockett at the Houston County Sheriff's Office: it's police patches. Hillman—who is also a licensed attorney—began trading and collecting police patches in 1999, when he attended a training session with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford--at the time--sent me with 100 Houston police patches,” Hillman recalled, “which I traded with different agencies and different officers. When I came back from that. That peaked my interest in patch collecting.”
The deputy has collected patches from every state in the union: from Arizona to Wyoming. He has an extensive collection of patches from agencies from across the Lone Star State.
In 16 years, Hillman has collected more nearly 5,000 patches.
“On display here at the Houston County Sheriff's office, we have 4, 340 police patches," Hillman shared. When Hillman approached Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt about the Parch Collection Project, Bobbitt really got a surprise.
"He said he had a patch collection. I'm thinking--you know--a few hundred patches or something,” said the sheriff. “And when we came in that Monday morning after he displayed them, spending all weekend putting them up, it was overwhelming.
Hill organized, arranged and assembled each display case on his off time and the walls of the sheriff's office morphed into a museum.
Houston County Chief Deputy J.P. Shearer said, “Each patch is put into a frame. There's a little over 124 frames. With about 35 patches in each frame."
It cost the county nothing. Hillman has a Texas-only “exhibit” in the training room.