The battle of the badges was started six years ago by Capt. Jeremy Watney of Tracy Police Department, bringing about a hundred donors each year.
This year, the drive is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 31 at Tracy Community Center, 950 East St.
Watney said the past five blood drives have collected more than 300 pints of blood for San Joaquin County’s Delta Blood Bank.
“The blood drive has been really good,” Watney said. “Delta Blood Bank said it is the most successful battle of the badges-type blood donation in California.”
Watney organized a similar blood drive while he was a sergeant in Plano, Texas.
The captain said he had received a note from the blood bank Tuesday, Jan. 14, saying that the bank is in critical need of B-positive blood.
“We schedule the blood donation near the holidays,” Watney said. “This time of year, the donors are less, but the need is always high.”
The annual blood drive is a congenial feud between the fire and police departments. Donors choose to give blood on behalf of one department or the other, and the one with the most votes takes a perpetual trophy for a year.
After winning the past three years, the police department has a 3-2 lead over the fire department.
The friendly rivalry for the Battle of the Badges trophy keeps both departments looking for votes, and Watney guessed the fire department might pose a challenge.
“I have a funny feeling they are going to stage a comeback this year,” Watney said.
Watney said the blood drive attracts about a hundred donors each year.
“Every pint helps three people, so we have helped more than a thousand in our county — so the more people we get, the better,” Watney said.
Tony Perez, a firefighter-paramedic with Tracy Fire Department, is helping organize the blood drive and hopes his department can reclaim the trophy with a strong showing of donors this year.
“We’re happy to do something to help the community, and it is always fun to compete with the police department,” Perez said. “There is a strong possibility we will have something to encourage votes for the fire department that day.”
Blood donors should be in good health, be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Teenagers who are 16 years old can also donate but must weigh at least 115 pounds.
All donors must show valid identification, and minors must have a signed permission slip.
Those who plan to give blood should drink plenty of fluids and not skip any meals.
People can schedule an appointment by calling Watney at 831-6687, but walk-in blood donors are also welcome.
Everyone who gives blood will receive a free T-shirt and a chance to vote for the police or fire department.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org