A trident, also called a leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spearfishing and was formerly also a military weapon. Tridents feature widely in mythical, historical and modern culture.
Note: a trident is not a pitchfork. A pitchfork is an agricultural tool with two to six tines (also called prongs) which are shaped in such a way that they can be used to lift and pitch (throw) loose material.
The word “trident” comes from the French trident, which in turn comes from the Latin tridens or tridentis: tri “three” and dentes “teeth.” Several Indian languages use a similar word for “trident,” trishula, derived from Sanskrit, meaning “triple spear.”
Tridents for fishing usually have barbed tines, which trap the speared fish firmly. In the Southern and Midwestern United States, gigging is used for harvesting suckers, bullfrogs, flounders and many species of rough fish.
As a weapon, the trident was prized for its long reach and ability to trap other long weapons between prongs to disarm their wielder. In Ancient Rome, in a parody of fishing, tridents were famously used by a type of gladiator called a retiarius or “net fighter.” The retiarius was traditionally pitted against a secutor and cast a net to wrap his adversary and then used the trident to kill him.
The U.S. Navy Special Warfare insignia, worn by members of the U.S. Navy SEALs, contains a trident representing the three aspects (Sea, Air and Land) of SEAL special operations.
The golden-colored crest of the United States Naval Academy depicts a trident running vertically in its background.
Parallel to its fishing origins, the trident is associated with Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology, the Roman god Neptune and Shiva, a Hindu god. In Greek myth, Poseidon used his trident to create water sources in Greece and the horse (by striking a camel). Poseidon, as well as being god of the sea, was also known as the “Earth Shaker.” When he struck the earth in anger, he caused mighty earthquakes, and he used his trident to stir up tidal waves, tsunamis and sea storms. In Roman myth, Neptune also used a trident to create new bodies of water and cause earthquakes. A good example can be seen in Gian Bernini’s Neptune and Triton.
The Santa Monica Trident
In 2010, Detective Goodwin and Sergeant Jacob, along with the help and input of several other officers and supervisors, created a logo to be used and represent the Santa Monica Police Department. The logo is intended to be available to all police personnel (sworn and civilian) and be used to reflect pride in the organization. It has since been adopted as the logo of the SMPOA Charity Fund, aka Survivor’s Fund, which was created to honor fallen SMPD Officer Rick Crocker.
The logo consists of several details representative of the SMPD and the City of Santa Monica:
- The diamond shape is derived from the general layout, or beat map, of the city as seen from the monitors in dispatch, the watch commander’s office, etc.
- The letters STM represent the department’s JDIC computer identifier to all law enforcement agencies within the U.S.
- The year 1896 is the founding year of the SMPD
- The colors blue and gold are representative of the uniform patch and badge of the SMPD. The “Mariner” font and blue background also reflect our proximity to the ocean.
- The trident is a maritime symbol. It can be seen as a symbol of strength and power. In addition, we believe the staff of the trident represents the community for which we serve. The left point stands for honor, the center point for integrity and the right for respect; the foundation of community trust in law enforcement.
Any and all proceeds from the sale of goods that display this logo go directly into the SMPOA Charity Fund. The charity assists police families with transportation, funeral services and addresses specific survivor needs at a time of tragedy involving the death of a police officer. The charity donates to all police officer families in California whose loved ones have died while in service to their community. The SMPOA Charity Fund has a 501(c)(3) designation, and donations are tax-deductible (Tax ID Number: 16-1752297).