Thursday, July 20, 2017

Incredible Donation of Waco Artifacts

The National Law Enforcement Museum is proud to announce the acquisition of three incredible objects worn by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents who participated in the raid on the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993.

Radio and helmet worn by ASAC Gary Orchowski on February 28, 1993.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2017.8.1 & 2.
Special Agent Eric Evers donated his bullet proof vest, responsible for stopping three of five rounds that hit him during the firefight. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Orchowski donated his helmet, which was hit with two rounds, and his radio, that was also badly damaged.

That day, ATF showed up at the Branch Davidian compound to serve a search warrant. They had learned that Branch Davidian cult leader, David Koresh, and his followers, were stockpiling illegal weapons. Koresh was also known to have taken many wives, including children.

By the end of the raid, six cult members and four ATF agents had been killed. After the raid, the FBI laid siege to the compound for 51 days. In the end, the compound went up in flames and more than 70 cult members died.

Front and inside front of vest worn by SA Eric Evers on February 28, 1993.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2017.9.1.
Many ATF agents were there on February 28, which ended up being the deadliest day in the agency’s history. The fallen agents were Steven D. Willis, Conway C. LeBleu, Todd W. McKeehan, and Robert J. Williams, all inscribed on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Orchowski shared, “I’ve decided I’m never going to forget, and I owe it to the guys who were killed to tell their story.”

You can learn more about the SA Evers and ASAC Orchowski’s donations here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Artifact Spotlight: Early Alcohol Testing with the “Drunkometer"

Historic image of a Drunkometer analyzing the contents of a balloon.
The National Law Enforcement Museum recently acquired a Drunkometer, one of the earliest tools that allowed police officers to conduct roadside breath tests on suspected intoxicated drivers. As more and more Americans began driving in the first half of the twentieth century, drunk-driving accidents increased significantly. Blood and urine samples could be taken to prove blood alcohol levels in impaired drivers after an arrest, but police officers needed a portable way to test drivers in the field and stop drunk-driving accidents before they happened.

Rolla N. Harger, a biochemist from the Indiana University School of Medicine, invented the Drunkometer in the 1930s. This relatively portable kit was essentially a small chemistry set. The police officer would have a driver breathe into a balloon; the breath from the balloon was mixed with chemicals from the kit, causing them to change color. The darker the color the mixture turned, the higher the amount of alcohol in the breath. A simple equation allowed police officers to determine the estimated blood alcohol levels and make an arrest.

The Drunkometer continued to be used into the 1950s, when it began to be replaced by the quicker and more accurate Breathalyzer, invented by Robert Borkenstein. The Woodbridge (NJ) Police Department used this Drunkometer through the early 1970s. Learn more here.

Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2017.6

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Historic Acquisition for National Law Enforcement Museum

Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2017.3.5
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2017.3.5
One of the first standard issue firearms for a law enforcement officer in America – Any guesses where it might be from? Boston? Philadelphia, perhaps? As far as we know, this .36 caliber Colt M1849 was one in a batch of about 200 firearms that were the first ever purchased for, and issued to, law enforcement officers in the US. This revolver was purchased by the City of Baltimore, Maryland, from The Sportsman’s Warehouse in 1857, and issued to Officer Charles Scott in 1861.

The National Law Enforcement Museum acquired this revolver along with several other artifacts related to the history of the Baltimore (MD) Police Department, including a Mexican war surplus musket (also purchased in 1857), an ivory police whistle, and a wooden walking stick given as a gift to Chief Myers in 1892.

The National Law Enforcement Museum collection is already home to some of the greatest artifacts in law enforcement history. We can’t wait to share these objects and stories in the museum when it opens next year.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

FieldTrip Zoom - Women in Law Enforcement

School Programs Manager Izzy Ortiz teaches students
at the Forensic Detectives Summer Camp about fingerprint patterns.

The National Law Enforcement Museum recently teamed up with FieldTrip Zoom, a company that hosts live broadcasts of educational programs to classrooms across the country. About 100 students from Virginia, Illinois, South Dakota, and Missouri, tuned into the museum’s interactive, 45-minute program on pioneering women in law enforcement, right from their classrooms. Students got to see artifacts in the museum’s collection dating back to the early 1900’s that related to the progress of women in law enforcement history and learned about how law enforcement policies have changed to include more women. The National Law Enforcement Museum will partner with FieldTrip Zoom again in April for DNA Week, and will host, “DNA and Investigations.”

For more information on FieldTrip Zoom programs please visit

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Puppy Love: Following a K-9 in Training

The National Law Enforcement Museum’s audio visual production team at Richard Lewis Media Group (RLMG) is hard at work filming much of the video that will be part of the museum’s exhibits. Sometimes that work involves getting to know an adorable puppy.

For the museum’s K-9 exhibit, RLMG has begun filming Wyatt, a Belgian Malinois, as he trains with the Boston (MA) Police Department. Filming began during Wyatt’s first training session when he was only 12 weeks old. Troy Caisey, head trainer for the BPD’s K-9 Unit, showed RLMG some of the “foundational” training exercises Wyatt is learning, including how to sit, stay, and pay attention. Over the next several months, RLMG will track Wyatt’s progress as he improves his concentration and basic skills. Hopefully, Wyatt will meet the requirements to move on to the core of his training – a 14-week patrol course.

Stay tuned to the Museum Insider for more updates on Wyatt’s progress in the coming months. To learn more about the job of K-9 officers, come visit the K-9 exhibit when the National Law Enforcement Museum opens in 2018.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eagle One Comes Home

Restored Eagle One coming off of the truck at the Eagle’s Nest.
With construction of the National Law Enforcement Museum well underway, museum staff continue to prepare many of the artifacts that will be on display when the building opens to the public. This includes the U.S. Park Police Bell 206L-1 helicopter that was used to rescue people out of the icy Potomac River after the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 in January 1982. Now, fully restored to how it appeared on that day, Eagle One (c. 1982) has returned to its original home at the Eagle’s Nest, the U.S. Park Police Hangar, where it will remain until being installed in the National Law Enforcement Museum. U.S. Park Police officers were there for the arrival, and the museum is grateful for the temporary use of their space.

Stay tuned for details about a possible Witness to History program in late January 2017, near the 35th anniversary of the Air Florida crash, featuring the story of how this helicopter was used in that amazing rescue.
Eagle One fully restored.
Restored Eagle One (right foreground) next to current
Park Police Eagle One helicopter (left background).

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

25 Years of the Memorial

Painting "The Ellipse" by Davis A. Buckley, 1987.
An early idea for the location of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
It has been 25 years since the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was dedicated on October 15, 1991, and with construction of the National Law Enforcement Museum underway, it only seems right to look back on the Memorial, the work that went into building it, and the significance it continues to hold.

There were many things to consider in determining the location of the Memorial. It was to be in a prominent place, easily accessible for the public. It was also important that the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial not be linked or associated with any of the numerous military memorials around the nation’s capital, as it served a distinct purpose. Early on, Craig Floyd, the first Executive Director (and current President and CEO), consulted with Jan Scruggs, the President and Founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). Thanks to Mr. Scruggs, in many ways, the NLEOMF was able to follow the model of the VVMF in creating the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

When Davis Buckley, the architect hired by NLEOMF, drew up his first designs for the memorial, he used the site of the Ellipse – the area between the Washington Monument and the White House – for his plans. This site was rejected by the National Capital Memorial Commission at the time, which eventually led to the choice of the Memorial’s current location in Judiciary Square. This site received final approval by the National Capital Planning Commission and the D.C. City Council in March of 1989.

One unique element of the design is that it does not include a statue of a person. Instead, at the center of the memorial, is a bronze medallion with a shield and rose, surrounded by an ivy wreath. The shield incorporated the preference of many supporters who voiced that a badge should be featured in the memorial somewhere.

The inclusion of the lion statues was deemed right and appropriate by all parties involved. Created by sculptor Ray Kaskey, four groups of lions and cubs at the entry points to the Pathways of Remembrance along the memorial walls, symbolize the protective role of law enforcement. According to Kaskey, “The idea of lions representing the virtues that we are trying to call forth here is very old…Throughout history…lions have been used to represent not only power, but also courage, protection, alertness. All of these things we wanted to put across with the symbolic representation in the Memorial.” The lion cubs are meant to represent the survivors and families of fallen officers, as well as the innocence of the general public whom law enforcement are charged with protecting.

The trees and flowers in the landscaping are inviting year-round, and together are meant to represent the seasons of life, and cycles of birth and death.

It is clear that every element of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial was carefully planned, and the feelings it evokes are no mere coincidence. Over the past 25 years this Memorial has truly served its purpose. It is a place to honor those who have died in the line of duty and for friends and family to remember lost loved ones. It is also an enjoyable, quiet space in the middle of the city for anyone who visits.

Information on the National Law Enforcement Memorial taken from The Making of a Memorial by Connie Clark.