Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dr. Cedric Alexander: Oral History

These were the words that allowed Cedric Alexander at the age of 19, a college drop-out, and new father to get his start in law enforcement. In a recent oral history interview, Alexander, now the chief safety officer for DeKalb County, Georgia and the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), described his conversation with Sheriff Raymond Hamlin as a defining moment in his life.

In 1970s Florida if someone wanted to attend the police academy, they would either have to already have a job with a Florida police department or pay $100 and get a police chief or sheriff to sign off on their paperwork. For Alexander, Sheriff Hamlin was his last chance. “I didn’t even know how to dress for an interview,” recalled Alexander, “I went over there in a jean jacket, jeans, [and] a skull cap, like a typical college student.” Hamlin had a “reputation of being a sexist and a racist and a bigot”, but the two men found common ground. After two and half hours of talking, Hamlin signed Alexander’s paperwork and they went their separate ways, yet Alexander says, “Everything in my career over the last 37 years is because Sheriff Raymond Hamlin opened the door and gave me an opportunity that nobody else would.”

Alexander’s conversation with Sheriff Hamlin paved his way into the police academy and local law enforcement. Now as a law enforcement official, Alexander encourages everyone to take a second look at people and try to truly follow Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s lesson of judging people by the content of their character and not by first impressions. The challenges of being a black man in the United States are keenly felt by Alexander who is all too aware of the precarious tight rope African-American officers must walk in their communities. He says, “It’s a double-edge sword for a black police officer because… you’ve got to be sensitive to the struggles and history in your own population, but you also are tied to the responsibilities and the oath that you’ve taken as a law enforcement official.”

The need for racial sensitivity in hiring, policing, and training will be foremost in Alexander’s thoughts as he works in his community and on a national stage in President Obama’s new task force on 21st Century Policing. But Alexander’s expectations for his officers are the same for all the law enforcement executives he encounters, “we maintain law and order, do what we’re sworn to do…we’re aware of [our biases and prejudices]…and we treat everybody the same regardless.” Read Dr. Alexander’s full interview and find more first-hand accounts of law enforcement history in our Museum Oral History Collection, sponsored by Target®.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Exciting New Object for Museum Exhibit

While monster-like in appearance,
this suit is an incredible feat of technology.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum.
The National Law Enforcement Museum is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of something we’ve been trying to hunt down for years. A bomb suit! Thanks to the FBI’s Washington Field Office, we now have a full bomb suit to exhibit in the Museum’s Bomb Squad section when it opens.

When a bomb tech needs to render safe an explosive by hand, the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) suit, or bomb suit, provides the best defense. A combination of rigid and soft armor protects against the two main threats of an explosion – the overpressure wave (shockwave) and shrapnel. What else is this suit capable of? Take a look:

To prevent overheating, a tube lets outside air flow into the helmet, which also has an internal cooling device.

Protects the face from shockwaves and shrapnel while still allowing the tech to see clearly.

Ensures that a tech’s head and neck are completely covered no matter how they move their body.

Body Armor
Armor plates protect the torso, groin and thighs. Techs can configure their armor to provide more or less protection in specific areas of the body.

Where the most protection is concentrated. Accordingly, techs train to face an explosive at all times even if that means walking backwards.

Hands and Feet

Techs rarely wear gloves, as hand dexterity is critical. Protective foot coverings can be attached at the tech’s discretion.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When Police Shoot: A Dialogue on the Use of Force

Last night, the National Law Enforcement Museum and The Memorial Foundation, builders of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, hosted the Museum’s inaugural Conversations on Law Enforcement panel discussion entitled: When Police Shoot: A Dialogue on the Use of Force in the US Navy Memorial’s Burke Theater. The event provided an opportunity for a national discussion on police training and procedure, and the use of force.

Craig Floyd, Chairman & CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, kicked off the event by welcoming the nearly 150  guests in attendance, and thanking the event’s sponsor, Target®, and co-host, Harry Johnson, President & CEO of the Friends of the Memorial Foundation. Mr. Johnson briefly spoke about the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington DC, and encouraged the panelists, audience and general public to bring forth the four tenants of the Memorial: justice, hope, love and democracy.

Panelists for this event included DeKalb County (GA) Chief of Police and the President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Cedric L. Alexander, PhD, and  former Cincinnati (OH) Chief of Police Thomas Streicher, Jr., and Reverend Tom Watson, Chief minister of Watson Memorial Training Ministry in New Orleans, LA. The event was moderated by BET television host Jeff Johnson.

View CSPAN video taken during this event.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Policing the Cyber World: Three FBI Agents' Perspectives on Digital Crime

Cybercrime has been a security threat since the early days of Silicon Valley. This new criminal frontier required law enforcement to adapt with new tools and techniques. Today the FBI’s Cyber Division administers a national program to combat digital threats, but in the early years small, underfunded task forces led the way. The National Law Enforcement Museum’s growing oral history collection includes some unique first-hand perspectives on the development of cyber policing. Follow the development of the FBI’s fight against cybercrime through the experiences of three FBI agents.

Jim Freeman
Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Office
In 1993, Jim Freeman took his new position in San Francisco located near the heart of the US technology boom in Silicon Valley. Freeman understood the threat of cybercrime early on and setup a high tech theft squad in the Palo Alto residence office. Freeman also saw first-hand how the FBI’s outdated equipment affected his team when pursuing the Unabomber. “The FBI operated in those days using a teletype system, which required an FBI agent to…dictate a teletype [to a stenographer]...Then it goes into the teletype room where another individual… retypes it onto a teletype machine... And when it’s received on the other end there’s a whole other laborious process.” You can read the transcript of Freeman’s complete oral history here.

Jana Monroe
Assistant Director of Cyber Division
In the late 1990s, cybercrime grew exponentially and small cyber squads like Freeman’s Palo Alto operation were implemented across the country. In 2002, FBI Director Robert Mueller appointed Jana Monroe as the first Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division. Monroe recalled, “The FBI had been working cybercrimes for quite a while, but not with a program in place, so it was just various entities within the field office[s]…But the Director, and rightly so, seeing that cyber was certainly a crime of the future…wanted to make a program out of it and have it funded.” Read more about Monroe’s experiences here.

J. Keith Mularski
Special Agent at the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance
Part of the new group of tech-focused agents, Mularski’s introduction to cybercrime began with his transfer to the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "When I came to cyber in 2005, my view of cyber crime was war games and Matthew Broderick sitting in the basement trying to hack into the Pentagon, and it couldn’t be further from the truth…[the criminals] are very structured.” Mularski’s biggest case to-date was the 2008 infiltration and dismantling of DarkMarket, one of the world’s Top 10 virtual black markets for illegal goods and services. Learn here how Mularski became Master Splyntr and more about his experience in the FBI.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tenth Witness to History Event Recounts the Investigation of the Unabomber

On Saturday, September 20th, 140 people attended the National Law Enforcement Museum’s Witness to History: Investigating the Unabomber program, held in partnership with the Newseum in their Knight Studio in Washington, DC and generously sponsored by Target. The program was the tenth in the Witness to History series. Panelists included Jim Freeman, Donald Max Noel, and Terry Turchie, three principal members of the Task force credited with apprehending the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. Their experiences are documented in a new book, Unabomber: How the FBI Broke Its own Rules to Capture the Terrorist Ted Kaczynski.

The event kicked off with opening remarks from Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd. Floyd was followed by discussion moderator, John Maynard from the Newseum, who prompted  panelists to recount their experiences while serving on the Unabomber task force. Topics included how the task force changed their policies in order to find and capture the Unabomber, and the importance of the 35,000 word manifesto that the Kaczynski sent to major newspapers.

Kaczynski sent homemade bombs that targeted universities, airlines and computer stores, killing three people and injuring 23 others. The search for the Unabomber became one of the largest and most expensive cases in FBI history, spanning almost 17 years, involving a file consisting of 59,000 volumes of information, and thousands of viable suspects.

Turchie, assistant Special Agent in charge of the task force, discussed how the FBI changed their strategies in order to apprehend the Unabomber. Turchie and Freeman came onto the task force towards the end of the investigation, when morale was low and not much progress was occurring. “They’d worked really hard, they’d been there a long time, and they were just tired,” Turchie said. Each member of the task force was encouraged to choose a partner in the hopes that if one was having a down day, the other could bring spirits up and help promote creativity.

Regarding the importance of the manifesto Freeman, Special Agent in charge of the task force, said that it is difficult to find a criminal when they are not communicating. However, “once [a criminal] starts communicating, you have an opportunity for lead material to develop. And the Unabomber had been quiet for about seven years up until he started bombing again in 1993 … and he started writing letters.”

The manifesto allowed the task force to get an idea of who the Unabomber was. Turchie described how the manifesto became a major clue in the case saying, “We spent months really reading and trying to understand the manifesto. And by the time we had someone step forward that could help us bring it together, we were already on those trails and we were able to go back and pull those pieces together.” The manifesto, which was published in media outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times at the urging of the FBI, brought forward the most crucial tip from the Unabomber’s own brother. David Kaczynski recognized the language and ideas of his brother, Ted, and had his attorney contact the FBI with the tip.

The discussion then moved on to the identification and capture of the Unabomber. Noel was  sent to investigate in Montana, where the Unabomber was hiding. He described  seeing Ted Kaczynski  for the first time: “I saw him a month before we actually took him into custody … I walked, along with his neighbor, up a skid road. And when we were about 40 yards away from his cabin, in a clearing, he opened up the door of his cabin and stuck his head out. And my first response was, ‘My God is that what we've been looking for all these years?’ He was a wild looking person; he had on an orange knit cap. You know, you conjure up an image of who you think you’re looking for over the years … and he’s this guy living in this little dinky cabin … that just amazed me.” Noel then went on to describe Kaczynski’s arrest. “It went like we planned it,” he said. There was no struggle.

At the end of the discussion, there was a Question and Answer session with audience members, after which guests were then invited to a reception in the Newseum. Everyone was encouraged to view the Unabomber’s Cabin, which will be on exhibit until January 15, 2015 in the Newseum’s G-Men and Journalists Exhibit.

The National Law Enforcement Museum would like to, again, thank Target® for sponsoring our Witness to History programs and the Newseum for partnering on this event.

For those unable to attend, a recording of the program can be viewed here on C-SPAN’s website. Thank you to everyone who attended the event and stay tuned for more Witness to History Events.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Director's Corner: SWAT Exhibit

One goal of the National Law Enforcement Museum has always been to represent the diversity of American law enforcement, both in the individuals who serve and the jobs they do. One exhibit, called Being an Officer, does just that by examining different types of specialized units, including Corrections, Bomb Squads, K9 Units, and SWAT Teams.

The SWAT section will be especially exciting, giving visitors an inside look into this inherently intense and action-packed job.  With the push of a button, an otherwise peaceful scene quickly becomes a dangerous situation that requires the intervention of tactical officers--and  visitors get to watch as the action unfolds. This 90-second two-story projection demonstrates the professional and efficient tactics used by SWAT to control a high-risk situation and ensure the safety of everyone involved.

To get the full picture of SWAT, visitors will learn how long tactical officers have been around and how they came into being. Many people do not know that tactical teams began to develop in response to a number of violent incidents that had occurred across the United States during the 1960s. Single-shooter incidents—such as the Texas Tower Shooting in 1966—had an impact, but SWAT was established mainly in response to the growth of armed, well-organized militant groups like the Black Panthers and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

This look at history combined with descriptions of duties and significant turning points in the profession will make for an exhibit that will grab visitors' attention and teach them something about what being a tactical officer really means.

Elevation of SWAT Audio/Visual Presentation in the Museum

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Artifact Spotlight: Lorton Prison Cells


Workers removing the cell bars and doors from the 
maximum security section of Lorton Prison for the Museum.

In July 2014, the National Law Enforcement Museum acquired an important historical artifact that is a key component of the exhibit design—30 feet of steel cell doors and bars from the former Lorton Correction Complex in Lorton, Virginia

Lorton was the primary corrections facility for the District of Columbia for nearly 100 years. Conceived in 1908 during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, the Lorton facility was a national model for prison reform both with its dormitory style architecture and its philosophy of providing prisoners with healthy outdoor work and education. Over the years, Lorton became dangerously overcrowded and its buildings in need of extensive repair. In 2001, the prison was closed and all 1 million square feet of it was transferred to Fairfax County, Virginia

A design drawing of the two-story Maximum Security cells restored and re-created in the Museum.
The Museum thanks Chris Caperton of Fairfax County’s Department of Planning and Zoning for allowing us to extract the cells at the right time during the County’s extensive redevelopment plan for the old prison and grounds. The National Law Enforcement Museum is proud to make the cells of Lorton a centerpiece of its exhibition on corrections officers.

Scenes from Old Lorton Prison, 2014