Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Artifact Spotlight: Exploring the Origins of a Photo Album

In 2007, the National Law Enforcement Museum acquired a photo album that purportedly belonged to an FBI agent in the 1930s or 40s. The album contained 44 photographs, mostly of crime scenes, some of which were very graphic. Amongst the pictures of lesser-known criminals and accident victims—people like Mrs. Cheries, Shorty Mangum, Aviator W. L. Edwards, and Mrs. Capormo—were morgue photos of the infamous duo Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, as well as a photo of wanted gangster, Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd.

With notorious criminal photos like these in the mix, it’s not surprising that the album was thought to have belonged to a federal agent. But, after a call to the album’s previous owner, Museum staff discovered that the FBI connection was a red herring. The prior owner clarified some of the facts, namely that she found the album inside of an abandoned storage unit in Houston, Texas. She had no idea about the origins of the album, but guessed it might have come from a local officer. So, that left Museum staff with lots to investigate. The overt clues within the album—stamps from the Houston Chronicle, a reference to Chocolate Bayou (a bayou near Houston), and the seal of the Houston Police Department—all pointed to Houston. The significance of another less obvious clue, a word that looked like "Busted" or “Buster” handwritten in pencil on the back of many of the photos, was initially hazy, but it would eventually lead back to Houston, too.

Click the photos to view on Flickr and read what we know about them.

Upon further examination, yet another Houston link was found. One of the little-known episodes depicted in the photographs happened to be one that’s very familiar to the Museum: the January 1932 confrontation between Houston police and Harry and Jennings Young. The Young Brothers were on the run after a shootout in Missouri that resulted in the death of six law enforcement officers. Acting on a tip, the Houston police, armed with shotguns and tear gas, surrounded the brothers’ rented cottage in downtown Houston. When officers had the brothers cornered in the cottage bathroom, they heard one brother shout, “we’re dead—come and get us,” followed by several gunshots. Rather than surrender, the brothers had shot each other.

Now with five photographs correctly attributed to the Young Brothers case, the Museum had inadvertently attained more important pieces of law enforcement history than anyone had first thought. With this newfound information, staff began to wonder—what other stories might the album have to tell? A closer look revealed one officer who was in many of the photographs. Could he be the album’s original owner? Might his name be Buster?

The Museum turned to Officer James Chapman of the Houston (TX) Police Department for help identifying the mysterious officer. In no time at all, we had our answer—the officer was Clairville V. Kern, also known as Buster. Buster Kern served as a patrolman, mounted officer, motorcycle officer, captain, and chief of detectives with the Houston Police Department, before he was elected Sheriff of Harris County. He was the county’s longest-serving sheriff, holding the office from 1949 to 1972.

A lawman in Texas for over 40 years, C.V. “Buster” Kern saw it all. He solved murders, faced off against gangsters, even got in a fistfight with a prosecutor. This water-damaged album provides a brief look into the world in which he lived. The Museum is proud to have it in its collection. However, its preservation is bittersweet—in talking to the album’s previous owner, we learned that the storage unit had held dozens of similar albums that she “trashed” because of the gory photographs they contained. This one album “slipped out of a box and went unseen for a couple of weeks,” at which point she opened it and saw the picture of Clyde Barrow. Ironically, an important story of law enforcement was saved, all thanks to a photo of a petty bank robber and murderer.

By looking for cases associated with Kern, one series of previously unidentified photographs of dive operations has been linked to the gangland-style slaying of Houston restaurant owner Vincent Vallone in 1949. But there is more research to be done and cases to unravel, so take a look at the photos above and see if there is anything you can add to the story.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

50 Years Later: Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit Photos Come Home

For those who lived through it, November 22, 1963 is a date that most people will never forget. Often you’ll hear people say that they remember exactly where they were and how they felt when they heard the news: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Though that day represents a moment that touched people across the nation, it hit close to home for the Dallas Police Department and Police Officer J.D. Tippit’s family. Officer Tippit was patrolling the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas when he received an urgent message from dispatch. What had started as an average day on the job, quickly shifted to one that required him to search for the president’s assassin.

Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum 2013.26
Noticing a man who matched the suspect’s description, Officer Tippit pulled over on the 400 block of East 10th Street to question him. The man pulled out a .38 revolver and shot Officer Tippit four times. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, leaving behind his wife, Marie, and three young children.

Less than 30 minutes later, Detective Paul Bentley followed a tip—about a suspicious man sneaking into the movie theater—that led him to the Texas Theater, where he arrested Lee Harvey Oswald. Detective Bentley thought he had arrested Officer Tippit’s killer; it was only after receiving a radio call that he learned the man in his cruiser was also suspected of killing President Kennedy.

Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum 2013.26
This October, the National Law Enforcement Museum acquired an important piece of history—the crime scene photos (including the three shown here) of Officer J.D. Tippit’s cruiser parked on 10th Street shortly after his death.

Part of a major auction featuring items related to the Kennedy family, these simple stills manage to capture both a national tragedy and the personal loss of the Tippit family and the Dallas Police Department. They remind us of the potential for calamity that officers face as they head out on a routine patrol, as well as reinforce the importance of that effort.

Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum 2013.26
The Museum is proud to bring these photographs to our collection. Additionally, many thanks to RR Auctions for kindly donating a portion of the auction proceeds to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Officer Tippit’s name is engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. A few years ago, fellow Dallas officer, Detective James Leavelle, visited the Memorial for the first time to see his friend Officer Tippit’s name. Detective Leavelle was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald, escorting him through the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters, when Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby. Mr. Leavelle spoke at the Museum’s first Witness to History event.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from the National Law Enforcement Museum & the Sprinkle Brothers!

Who doesn't like a good ghost story on Halloween? Thanks to the blog, Ghosts of DC (GoDC), we've discovered one that involves a couple of former Metropolitan (DC) Police officers—including J.L. Sprinkle, pictured below, with his brother, J.F.

Brothers J.L. and J.F. Sprinkle wearing their DC
Metropolitan Police Department uniforms, 1904.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2006.166.1

According to GoDC, it started on a dark and stormy night a few years ago with an officer on desk duty at the 1D-1 Substation in Washington, DC's historic Capitol Hill neighborhood. While monitoring the closed-circuit TV camera, he noticed another officer on his screen. But he was sure he was alone in the building…

Well, local legend goes on to explain who the officer on the screen might have been. On March 5, 1909, Officer John W. Collier called in sick to work. He was known for laziness and tardiness, so his commanding officer, precinct commander Captain William H. Mathews, ordered that Collier show up to prove just how sick he was.

Collier walked into the Fifth Precinct station house (today’s 1D-1 Substation) and shot Captain Mathews (whose name is engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall). Mathews’s Deputy, J.L. Sprinkle, and two other officers, fought with Collier, but it was too late. Captain Mathews had been killed.

Did the deceased Captain Mathews somehow reappear at his old station? I guess we’ll never know for sure. Read GoDC’s whole account of these events.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Artifact Spotlight: The Bicycle Craze in America

Museum staff has had bicycles on the brain, as we gear up for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s annual Ride & Run to Remember, on October 12-13, in Washington, DC. Sifting through the collection, the question of when cycling gained popularity got our wheels turning.

In the early 1890s, people were caught up in a new trend—bicycle riding. Although the bicycle had been around for a while, innovative designs, better roads, and the discovery of new materials produced a machine that was lighter, smoother, and faster to ride. Growing public acceptance of this social and health-boosting activity encouraged people to try it. Even fashion was influenced, as new skirts were designed for women to ride modestly in public.

Print from an 1893 edition of Judge Magazine.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum,
As with any new trend, this two-wheeled contraption faced its share of critics. An 1893 edition of Judge Magazine spoofed the craze, creating cartoon vignettes of all the silly developments that could come from it. One such scene (see left) pictures two portly policemen trying to balance on the spindly wheels of turn-of-the-century bicycles, with a caption that reads, “it would not do.”

Ignoring the ridicule, the NYPD forged ahead with a Bicycle Squad, and with great success. After its 29 officers made over 1300 arrests in their first year, the Squad was soon expanded to 100 officers. Before long, these squads became the norm within urban law enforcement agencies, which surely left the critics backpedaling on their anti-bicycle stance.

This month, 120 years after this cartoon was published, riders will cycle up to 50 miles to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, to honor the sacrifice and celebrate the service of our law enforcement officers. Fundraising events like this one help keep the long tradition of cycling in America alive—and support a worthy cause, too.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Event Recap | Witness to History: The Investigation of Robert Hanssen

Hosted by the International Spy Museum and sponsored by Target, the National Law Enforcement Museum's event, Witness to History: The Investigation of Robert Hanssen, took place last evening. About 170 guests attended—the largest crowd at a Witness to History event to date—and Peter Earnest, the Founding Executive Director of the International Spy Museum, welcomed the nearly full auditorium, saying, "the government is closed, but the Spy Museum is not." He then introduced the moderator, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig W. Floyd, to begin the discussion with panelists, Section Chief Mike Rochford, FBI, Russian Overseas Espionage, Ret.; and David Wise, Author of Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America.

The panelists—with help from audience members such as Dr. David L. Charney, who was Hanssen's psychiatrist—shed light on what motivated ex-FBI agent and Russian spy, Robert Hanssen, to sell high-level U.S. secrets to the former Soviet Union and Russia for over 20 years.

Hanssen was the son of a Chicago law enforcement officer (who specialized in catching suspected communists), and went on to become a Russian spy, just three years after joining the FBI. He was a family man and devout Catholic, who also became involved with a stripper. Mr. Wise summed it up, "Robert Hanssen is a very complex man, and a bundle of contradictions." Dr. Charney, who was given permission by Hanssen to convey his medical findings to the intelligence community as a teaching opportunity, agreed with this assertion. He said "compartmentalization" was a factor in Hanssen's ability to function in starkly contradictory roles.

Mr. Rochford described the process of finally pinning Hanssen as the culprit who had leaked hundreds of highly sensitive documents to the Russians for a long period of time. He referred to some clues that, in hindsight, may have led the FBI's investigation to Hanssen, as "puffs of smoke" that, at the time, did not amount to any significant proof of his guilt. He also confirmed that Hanssen was never polygraphed until he was caught, and that the FBI now polygraphs upon employment—one of the improvements that resulted from this case.

Thanks to the collective efforts of the FBI, CIA, Department of State, and the Justice Department, Hanssen was arrested in 2001 and convicted of espionage. He is currently at the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where he is held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day (with one hour of exercise permitted).

Learn more about the National Law Enforcement Museum's Witness to History panel discussion series, and check out recaps and photos from past events.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our Law Enforcement Family

Did you know that our nation’s law enforcement family comprises more than 16 million people?

There are currently 18,000 agencies that represent over 900,000 active officers patrolling our streets and keeping us safe. To put that in perspective, when you look at the current U.S. population of 319 million people, there is only one law enforcement officer for every 350 civilians!

Fortunately, to support those officers, there are 1.6 million civilians whose efforts are vital to assisting officers. These include dispatchers, equipment managers, information technology specialists, and many more. In addition to our active officers, there are over three million retired officers in the U.S.

If you factor in the families of our current and retired law enforcement officers, as well as the families of the civilians who provide officer support, that number reaches more than 16 million people.

We hope that each and every member of the law enforcement family will have the opportunity to visit the National Law Enforcement Museum when it opens in 2015.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lloyd George Sealy

50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech

Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the March on Washington, drawing a quarter-million people to the nation’s capital. The March would become one of the largest political rallies for human rights in our nation’s history, and Dr. King’s inspirational words that day—promoting racial peace and equality—became known as the I Have a Dream speech.
Photograph: Captain Lloyd George Sealy.
First black Captain of 28th Precinct, Harlem, August 1965.
Lt. Marvin Sartorius looks on. 2006.280.1.11
Reflecting on this historic day, Museum staff wanted to share the story of an African-American man working in law enforcement during this tumultuous time in U.S. history. Lloyd George Sealy was born in Manhattan in 1917, and was raised in Brooklyn, New York. Officer Sealy began his career with the NYPD in November 1942. At that time, there were few African-Americans in the department, and most served in precincts in neighborhoods with large black populations. 

Over the next 10 years, with ambition and grit, Sealy earned both his Bachelor’s degree and Law degree, all while working full time as a police officer—even being promoted to Sergeant in 1951 and later to Captain. 

Sealy carries a list of firsts for African-American officers in New York: first to command a precinct in Harlem (2nd to command a precinct in all of New York); first Assistant Chief Inspector in 1966; first Commander of the Brooklyn North Patrol Service Area, also in 1966; and, after retiring, first to become an Associate Professor of Law and Police Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a department of the City University of New York.  Sealy is also a founding member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). The Lloyd George Sealy library at John Jay College is named in his honor.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Artifact Spotlight | Wanted: A Piece of History Conserved

In 1923, Mr. Samuel Hasten was a wanted man. The 38-year-old Austria native was arrested for felony and embezzlement in San Francisco, and was wanted for jumping bail. This obscure episode in San Francisco Police Department history would be lost, if not for a fragile wanted poster in our collection. Over the summer, the Museum has begun to preserve that piece of history—the wanted poster issued for Samuel Hasten, in October 1923, by D.J. O’Brien, Chief of Police—along with several other wanted posters in the collection.

Before and after conservation.  2006.177.3

The Hasten wanted poster was treated to remove old adhesive residue and had a deacidification “bath” to remove acids in the paper that contributed to aging and yellowing. Once it dried, it was carefully lined with very thin archival tissue to support the delicate paper. Now that it has been conserved, this document is well equipped to be displayed on exhibit—and will allow the Museum to maintain it in stable condition, indefinitely.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Artifact Spotlight: Sheriff's Writ, 1792

Sheriff’s Writ from Bristol County,
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1792. 2006.243.1 
This 221-year-old Sheriff’s Writ is from Bristol County, Massachusetts. The document was issued a year after the Fourth Amendment (which prohibited unreasonable searches and seizures) was approved, along with the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights. This writ detailed a case of an unpaid debt between Jabez Gay, Jr. and Rufus Bucklen, both from Rehoboth. It required Mr. Bucklen to appear in the court of Elisha May, Justice of the Peace, in Attleborough on “the Seventh Day of April next at one of the Clock in the afternoon,” 1792.

The case, which dated back to 1784, was to be settled with damages for 40 shillings. The writ directed the Bristol County Sheriff or his deputies to ensure that the defendant arrive safely to face charges.

This is a small but significant part of the Museum’s collection of 18th century artifacts that document the role of law enforcement in the young Republic.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Artifact Spotlight: Life Magazine, March 19, 1965

Our Teacher Advisory Group recently examined some objects in our collection and discussed how they might use them in classrooms to augment a visit to the Museum. One such discussion, which focused on civil rights and the ethics of law enforcement, analyzed this Life magazine issue from March 1965.

Pictured on its cover is a powerful image showing a peaceful march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, towards a line of officers in riot gear. The teachers suggested an activity that would encourage students to put themselves in the place of one of the individuals in the photo and think about what they would do in this situation. As an officer? A protester? Or a spectator?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Witness to History: The Hunt for the Green River Killer

On Wednesday, April 10, 2013, the National Law Enforcement Museum held the seventh event in our Witness to History panel discussion series, which focused on the topic of serial killers—specifically the case of the Green River Killer—through expert analysis and the insights of those involved in the investigation. Many thanks to all who were able to join us.

More than 100 people attended the event, held at the Naval Heritage Center, and sponsored by Target®. The panel discussion was moderated by Craig W. Floyd, Chairman & CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.


Each panelist offered a unique perspective on the case. Congressman Reichert shared the emotional moment he experienced, as Sheriff of King County, when they realized they had finally found the Green River Killer, after a 20-year investigation. "I got ya, asshole" were the Sheriff's words of relief as Ridgeway was escorted to jail.

Jana Monroe offered her comprehensive understanding of the nature of serial killers, explaining there is no formula that links every serial killer together. She did say that, in her personal and professional opinion, Ridgeway's motivation "appeared to be a desire for control over his victims," which was reflected in the horrific way he mangled his victims' bodies.

Dr. Keppel recalled the letters he received and conversations he had with infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, who reached out to authorities to, apparently, give them information about the psyche of a serial killer. Though, Dr. Keppel said that Bundy did not tell authorities anything they did not already know about the Green River Killer. After the discussion, a Q&A session allowed audience members to interact with the panelists.

"We were thrilled to host yet another successful Witness to History event," said Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig W. Floyd. "Our excellent panel brought invaluable experience and knowledge to the discussion," he said. "Thank you to all who were able to join us."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eagle 1 to the Rescue: Helicopter Lives Up to its Name

Earth Day was created in 1970 to bring public awareness—and activism—to environmental causes. The idea, first proposed by then-U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, has swelled to the worldwide movement it is today. So as we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, check out these amazing wildlife rescue photographs from our collection. 

Photograph: Eagle 1 Rescue, May 7, 2002. 2012.9.1 & 2.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.
Image Courtesy of Maryland Department of Natural Resources & Tom Darden.

Like most stunning photographs, these have an equally compelling story. On May 7, 2002, a mining company called Maryland Rock Industries (MRI) alerted Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that seven bald eagles were stuck in a 10-acre silt pond at Goose Bay, Maryland.  This pond was part of a recirculating system required for processing mined rock and sand, used to settle unwanted byproducts. Perhaps beneficial for the mining process, the pond’s sticky makeup proved to be a dangerous trap for animals—especially birds, who can get stuck in the sludge, rendering them unable to fly.

The size of this pond made rescue by foot or boat impossible. Maryland Wildlife officials called on the National Park Service Park Police helicopter, aptly named Eagle 1, to help. In the daring rescue, pilot Sgt. Ron Galey flew the helicopter just over the wet silt pit, narrowly avoiding getting stuck in the mud, while paramedic Sgt. John Marsh and Maryland DNR Wildlife Biologist Bryan King plucked the eagles from the surface.

Four of the seven bald eagles were treated and later released. Maryland Governor Glendening honored the rescuers, saying, "The rescue effort demonstrated the resourcefulness of our State and federal workers, but more importantly it revealed their strong commitment to working together to achieve a common goal."

Between 2000 and 2004, Maryland Rock Industries reported 20 endangered bald eagles had become stuck in the silt ponds at Goose Bay. Following the rescue and investigation by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Maryland DNR, the company altered its mining practices, waiting until the bald eagles had migrated out of the area to drain water from the ponds. This effectively stopped the eagle entrapments at Goose Bay.

On Earth Day, as we celebrate and learn about conserving our planet, we should remember some 15,000 law enforcement officers who work every day to protect our natural resources around the country. When it opens, the National Law Enforcement Museum plans to proudly display a National Park Service helicopter, also named Eagle 1, as a symbol of the courageous actions of individuals—like those involved in this story—who do their part to protect all living things.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Law Enforcement Haiku for National Poetry Month

We're celebrating 
National Poetry Month 
with police haiku

Yes, that is a haiku (albeit not a particularly good one, but you get the idea). And because April is National Poetry Month, Museum staff members have been doing a bit of haiku-writing, keeping with the law enforcement theme. So before you're completely blown away by our poetic prowess (or lack thereof), it's your turn to write a haiku related to law enforcement and share it with us!

To refresh your memory, a haiku is a poem of Japanese origin made up of three lines—five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Here's another example, along with a photo from our collection.

Photograph: New York City, May 27, 1937. 2008.44.1. Collection of the
National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Candy Delivers a Sting

There’s more than one way to serve an outstanding arrest warrant. For Anne Arundel County (MD) Sheriff Ron Bateman, it just took a little creativity.

The Keystone Valentine’s Day sting was inspired by a 1907 photo
of Sheriff Bateman’s great-grandfather, a Baltimore City Police Officer.
The box was decorated with the scales of justice.
As one may imagine, it proved a difficult task for Sheriff Bateman and his force to track down offenders, some of whom were "unavailable" whenever officials sought after them. So, according to a 2010 news release from the Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Bateman devised a plan to corral these law-breakers who had expertly dodged arrest.

Sheriff Bateman's deputies dressed up as drivers for the made-up “Keystone Candigrams” company. The deputies delivered fake boxes of “Keystone Candigrams” chocolates to persons with outstanding arrest warrants on Valentine’s Day.

The Keystone Candigrams delivery truck advertised with a double entendre, “Just one and you’re hooked.”

Unfortunately for recipients, the deliveries weren’t so sweet. The office made 15 arrests with the delivery of the fake chocolates.

Apparently, some jokes can serve a greater purpose.

Happy April Fools’ Day from the National Law Enforcement Museum!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Avoid the Paddy Wagon this St. Patrick’s Day

Vehicles like this one, from the 1920s, were called ‘paddy wagons.’ The meaning and origin of this nickname are not entirely known, but many theories exist.

Photograph: Police vehicle, circa 1920. 2006.30.1.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum,
Washington, DC.
Two possible origins relate to early American prejudices about the Irish, who were often called ‘paddies,’ probably referring to the Irish name Pádraig or Patrick (also the name of the patron saint of Ireland).

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Irish immigrants settled in the United States and began careers as policemen. By 1860, one in four New Yorkers—over 200,000—had been born in Ireland. Around that time, nearly half of New York City's law enforcement officers were also Irish. Therefore, a paddy wagon might have gotten its name because it was a vehicle often driven by an Irishman. However, paddy wagon may also describe a vehicle that carried several Irishmen, referencing the high number of Irish people arrested in those times. Looking back again to the 1860s, more than half of those arrested in New York City were Irish.

Whether it originally referred to lawmen or lawbreakers, ‘paddy wagon’ is still a term for a police vehicle, usually a van, designed to accommodate a crowd of prisoners. So as you celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day, avoid the paddy wagon, mo chara.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You Have the Right to Remain Silent: Miranda Arrested 50 Years Ago Today

Today, we can recite from memory the warning law enforcement officers give suspects during an arrest, "you have the right to remain silent, anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law..." You know the rest—whether from Law & Order marathons or personal experience (hopefully you were the police officer in that scenario). You probably know them as "Miranda rights," but have you ever wondered when and why this warning became part of the law?

The arrest of Ernesto Miranda in Phoenix, on March 13, 1963—50 years ago today—emerged as a catalyst for change in law enforcement procedure. What are commonly known as "Miranda rights" were adopted into U.S. law following the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court decision, which found that the Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights of Ernesto Arturo Miranda had been violated during his arrest and trial.

2011.47.454. Collection of the
National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC
The court held that a defendant “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires,” as this laminated wallet card reminds officers. The card was donated to the National Law Enforcement Museum by Donald “Keith” Johnson, a retired Lieutenant with the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Read more: Phoenix police mark 50 years since Miranda arrest (Associated Press via

Friday, March 1, 2013

Celebrating Women’s History Month

It’s pretty much common knowledge these days (or at least it should be) that women play an integral role in enforcing the law around the country. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. To think that even before women had the right to vote, they were taking up police positions all over the USA, is quite remarkable. However, there were a lot of people who found this idea—women as law enforcement officers—to be absolutely ridiculous. Check out this cartoon from an 1887 issue of Judge Magazine to see what other “crazy” things some people were afraid would happen if women got their rights. Thankfully, the skeptics were sorely mistaken, and women have the last laugh.

Click image to enlarge
The cartoon was published in 1887 in response to women in Kansas being the first in the nation allowed to exercise suffrage in municipal elections. Kansan women were not, however, allowed to exercise full voting rights in federal elections until 1912. Kansas was the eighth state to pass this legislation, building up to the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 that granted all American women the right to vote.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Journey Through the Hoover Files: Presidential Correspondence

Did you know J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)* spanned the administrations of eight U.S. presidents? Sifting through the Museum’s extensive Hoover Collection (donated by the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation in 2010) uncovered some correspondence between the longtime FBI Director and a handful of the nation’s commanders-in-chief (from 1933-1964): Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.

In light of the Presidents' Day holiday, we thought these letters (and photos) were worth sharing. Every letter provides a snapshot that captures some aspect—if even a tiny shred—of the unique relationship between Director Hoover and the President who penned each note. Take a look.

*This includes Director Hoover’s time as head of the Bureau of Investigation (1924-1935), before it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Friday, February 8, 2013

National Law Enforcement Museum and Target® Present Witness to History: The ATF Raid at Waco

The National Law Enforcement Museum hosted the sixth event in its Witness to History panel discussion series, held at the Pew Charitable Trusts Building in Washington, DC, and sponsored by Target®. The event marked the first time that agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—on the ground when the 50-day raid began in Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993—have spoken publicly about their role in this tragic case.

“We were honored to host yet another successful Witness to History event as part of our continuing series,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig Floyd, who moderated the panel discussion. “Our excellent panel provided valuable insight, and each panelist shared his unique perspective on this seminal moment in law enforcement history.”

Panel discussion included expert analysis and firsthand accounts from Bill Buford, ATF (ret.) Resident Agent in Charge, Little Rock Field Office; Pete Mastin, ATF (ret.) Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Field Division; Jerry Petrilli, ATF (ret.) Resident Agent in Charge, Albuquerque Field Office; and Dick Reavis, author of The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation. A Q&A session allowed audience members to interact with the panelists at the end of the discussion.

Acting ATF Director, B. Todd Jones, was also in attendance and shared his thoughts on the events at Waco to open up the Q&A portion of the program. “This was the biggest gunfight involving federal law enforcement in the history of America,” he said. “The men who were there that day were all heroes, in my mind.”

Each of the agents on the panel shared insight into what they felt went wrong, as well as how ATF has improved operations as a result of what happened at Waco. According to Mr. Buford, “One thing that came as a result of Waco, was a strong contingency plan. We have that for every operation we run now.”

Witness to History: The ATF Raid at Waco was open to the public, with about 150 guests in attendance.  For more information about the National Law Enforcement Museum’s Witness to History program, visit

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Secret Service Artifacts, Photos, & More on Display at National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Visitors Center & Store

Exhibit on Display January 16-February 15, 2013

In honor of the 57th Presidential Inauguration this year in Washington, DC, the National Law Enforcement Museum will feature a special temporary exhibit beginning Wednesday, January 16, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Visitors Center & Store (located 400 7th Street NW at the corner of 7th & D Streets NW).

In this exhibit you will find rare Inaugural badges from the Museum’s collection along with some Secret Service gear, on loan from the agency. You'll also find lots of visitors picking up their commemorative inaugural badges, pins and coins in addition to other Memorial Fund gifts.

Stop by to learn about two of the agencies responsible for protecting the President on Inauguration Day—the United States Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Inauguration Day Facts

While Museum staff prepared for the Inaugural exhibit, currently on display at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Visitors Center & Store, we learned a few interesting facts about one of the most memorable parts of Inauguration Day: the parade down DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue.

1944 Inaugural parade (President Franklin D. Roosevelt)

What do you know about this festive tradition?

1957 Inaugural parade (President Dwight D. Eisenhower)

Did you know ... ?

  • The first Inaugural parade to take place in the new capital city of Washington was during Thomas Jefferson's first Inauguration in 1801.

  • President Woodrow Wilson’s second Inaugural parade (1917) was the first to include women.

  • Today, law enforcement personnel stand shoulder to shoulder along the parade route, when they used to stand at least 20 feet apart from one another.

2009 Inaugural parade (President Barack Obama)
  • Both military personnel and law enforcement officials line the Inaugural parade route for protection.

  • During the parade, military personnel face the president while law enforcement faces the people.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

10 New Year's Resolutions Law Enforcement Thinks You Should Keep

A (satirical) list of resolutions to live by in 2013.
  1. I will improve my artistic abilities in the New Year, but will not do so by painting obscene words on the sides of public buildings and traffic signs.

  2. If pulled over for a traffic violation, I will not ask the trooper if s/he knows this other trooper I’ve met in the past whose name I can’t recall.

  3. I will not ask a deputy for directions and then disagree with the directions given because the GPS says otherwise.

  4. I will not walk up to officers who are eating and proceed to ask them if they are eating.

  5. I will lose weight this year, but will not attempt to do so by running from the cops.

  6. I resolve to spend more time with my family and friends. Being in jail together does not count.

  7. I will be more punctual, but won't use patrol cars with sirens as my personal escorts.

  8. I resolve to never tell a deputy/officer that I pay his or her salary.

  9. If I see a police officer at Dunkin’ Donuts, I will not laugh out loud. Only on the inside.

  10. I will stop pretending to "understand the law" because I watch a lot of Law & Order.

Thank you to Officer Eric Bohrer, Inver Grove Heights (MN) Police Department & Marshal Bill Swank, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Air Marshal Service, Cleveland Field Office for helping with this list.