Tuesday, December 12, 2017

History Time Capsules: A Window into the Evolution of Law Enforcement

When the new National Law Enforcement Museum opens its doors next fall, visitors will get an in-depth understanding of how American law enforcement has evolved over the years through a series of time capsules along the Museum’s south wall.

Summer Police Uniform Helmet ca. 1880, Collection of the
National Law Enforcement Museum, 2006.488.76
History Time Capsules will provide snapshots of different eras in American law enforcement history, from its earliest inception to present day. Some of the oldest artifacts in the Museum’s collection are housed in the first capsule, which covers the influence of English jurisprudence, or the philosophy of law, on the origins of American law enforcement, including a Sheriff’s writ from 1703.

Visitors will also discover the development of municipal police forces during the 19th century, including early uniforms, equipment and some of the first department-issued firearms. Some of the greatest stories from the Wild West involved law enforcement too, like New Mexico Sheriff Pat Garrett who killed Billy the Kid, and Deputy U.S. Marshal Louis Eichoff who tracked down the infamous Dalton gang.

The time capsules will follow law enforcement history through the professionalization of the field, featuring early training materials and methods for standardizing policing. Visitors will see what it was like for the officers who were tasked with enforcing prohibition, including the one and only Eliot Ness of the Untouchables fame and his personal credentials. IRS Agent Mike Malone’s gun will help tell the story of how he infiltrated Al Capone’s network, leading to his eventual arrest. The time capsules also capture social changes that took place during the Civil Rights era; the clashes between federal and local agencies and the overzealous tactics employed by some of the local law enforcement departments. In addition, more women were entering law enforcement and beginning to take on roles that had never been allowed previously.

Indian Police Belt, Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2013.19.6
The capsules also capture the traumatic events of the 9/11 terror attacks and how they changed law enforcement, in ways that still impact people today. Compelling objects will represent stories of rescue, including a flashlight and safety helmet worn by Port Authority of New York & New Jersey officers as they sought to save lives.

The History Time Capsules exhibit is just one of the many ways the National Law Enforcement Museum will educate, fascinate and engage visitors when the doors open next fall.

Monday, December 11, 2017

History Blotter: Arresting the Cincinnati Strangler

"They were terrified. The locksmiths and the hardware stores couldn't keep locks in stock.”

In December 1966, residents of Cincinnati, Ohio were frightened. Over the course of more than a year, a serial killer had raped and strangled seven women, most of them elderly. The first murder took place on December 2, 1965. On December 9, 1966, police found the body of Lula Kerrick in the elevator of her apartment building. Her death by strangulation resembled that of other victims; however, Kerrick had not been sexually assaulted.

By now the serial murders had terrorized the city. A police hotline received 800 tips per day. Officers checked out more than 15,000 cars and Halloween trick or treating was moved to daylight hours so residents could be safely in their homes by dark.

The Cincinnati (OH) Police Department assigned a special squad of 22 men to investigate the murders. They quickly logged over 100 hours of overtime and investigated more than 1000 leads. One of those leads included reports of a brown and cream-colored car seen near the locations of several of the murders. A man jotted down the license plate of a car as an unfamiliar man fled his apartment building.

Posteal Laskey, Jr.
Acting on that tip, Cincinnati police arrested Posteal Laskey, Jr. just four hours after they found Lula Kerrick’s body. The 29-year old former cab driver was only charged with the murder of one victim, Barbara Rose Bowman. Police determined Laskey stole a cab and picked up the 31-year old Bowman. Police said Bowman was struck by the cab, then fatally stabbed and strangled when she tried to get away. Several witnesses indicated they’d seen Bowman get into the cab Laskey was driving.

Cincinnati Patrolman Frank Sefton was the first officer to arrive at the scene of Bowman’s murder. ''They were terrified,'' Sefton said of the public after Bowman's killing. ''The locksmiths and the hardware stores couldn't keep locks in stock. There was a huge demand for them. ... Because of the hysteria, everybody was absolutely petrified.'' 1

Laskey’s arrest sparked racial tensions in Cincinnati. Laskey was African-American; all of the victims were white. Five witnesses stated Laskey was at home at the time of the Bowman murder, but much of the evidence against Laskey was based on witnesses who placed him in the vicinity of the murders as well as the description and license plate of the car. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a special trip to the city to plead for calm.  Hundreds of National Guardsmen were deployed to Cincinnati as protests became violent. Police were certain they had the right suspect, citing that the murders stopped after his arrest; Laskey’s family was convinced he was a scapegoat.

Laskey was sentenced to die in the electric chair but his execution was commuted to life in prison when the death penalty was abolished in Ohio. Laskey remained incarcerated until his death in 2007. He was buried on the grounds of the prison.

1 From the The Cincinnati Post, March 1, 2002

Secrets of the Museum

A year ago today, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund President and CEO Craig W. Floyd braved frigid temperatures to complete a special mission.

Carrying a wooden box strapped to his back, he climbed 65 feet below the surface, down several ladders and into the construction site of the new National Law Enforcement Museum. Protected inside the box were rubbings containing the names of fallen officers from the Memorial.

The rubbings were part of a project from National Police Week in 2014. Visitors were asked to make extra rubbings of their loved one’s names so they could be placed in a capsule and embedded into the Museum.  Hundreds of rubbings were collected. On December 15, 2016, these treasured rubbings were carefully placed and sealed in the Museum’s foundation beneath the Museum’s Hall of Remembrance.

Visitors to the Memorial are encouraged to use the paper and pencils provided in the directory stands to make rubbings of fallen officers’ names. The Visitors Center & Store features a number of frames and holders for displaying rubbings from the Memorial.

As a member of the Honor Alliance, your benefits include a lifetime membership to the National Law Enforcement Museum, which opens next fall.  Share this valuable experience by purchasing an individual or family gift membership for a fellow active duty or retired law enforcement officer for just $100.

An Amazing Opportunity and an Amazing Intern

National Law Enforcement Museum Intern Shelbi Stovall
This month, the National Law Enforcement Museum says farewell to fall intern Shelbi Stovall. A graduate student at George Washington University, Shelbi has been instrumental in helping standardize and catalog a large amount of objects and information for the Museum.

"I appreciate the diversity. You get the chance to get a lot of things under your belt, not just data entry, and of course Lauren is wonderful," says Shelbi.

Museum Collections Manager Lauren Sydney has been supervising Shelbi throughout her internship and has been pleased to have someone so dedicated to the Museum to assist her efforts to manage an extensive collection of more than 18,000 artifacts.

Splitting her time between the Museum office and the Museum’s storage facility, Shelbi has concentrated her work on preparing exhibit installations. Among her many responsibilities, she has gathered information on objects slated for display, such as the locations, dimensions and conditions of each item. She has also cataloged new acquisitions, uploaded photos to the Museum’s collection database and helped with the de-installation of a small exhibit in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Washington, DC administrative office.

Shelbi recently put a great deal of effort into standardizing a huge catalog of information and evidence related to the DC Sniper collection. On long-term loan to the Museum from the Prince William County (VA) Police Department, the collection includes more than 1,000 records. Additionally, Shelbi cataloged and photographed a collection of nearly 300 law enforcement badges that were donated to the Museum last month.

"In 50 years, because of the things I’m doing right now, we’ll have these objects – it’s really powerful," says Shelbi.

The Museum operates regular internship programs that provide students with work opportunities in various aspects of non-profit organization and operations, as well as museum programs. For more information, contact Colleen Ludgate, at cludgate@nleomf.org.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sneak Peak at Officers' Stories

“In that moment I knew…sign me up for this. Sign me up to be proud to work for the federal court system.”

- Supervisory U.S. Probation Officer Amber R. Lupkes, Northern District of Iowa
Supervisory U.S. Probation Officer Amber R. Lupkes
Northern District of Iowa

What’s it like to walk in the shoes of a real law enforcement officer? The museum team, along with the renowned Richard Lewis Media Group, just finished interviewing several pre-trial and probation officers to find out. Their personal journeys will be part of the Museum’s interactive “Officers’ Stories” exhibit featuring a diverse collection of stories from law enforcement officers from across the country. Hear in their own words what it’s like to be a law enforcement professional. Here’s one officer’s story:

“The judge I worked for at that point was a Magistrate Judge, who is now a Chief Judge in the Southern District of Iowa. There was a day that was a little slow, so I had the opportunity to go sit in on a courtroom and listen to the sentencing of a defendant that was being sentenced on a new case. I had never been in this courtroom, never been in front of this judge…and as I sat there the judge was reading a pre-sentence report.

The judge made note and looked at the defendant and said, ‘you have a long list of violence against women. I’ve honestly never seen as much violence against women as you have. I would like you to stand and address the court and explain to me the reason for this.’ He stood up, without missing a beat, he looked at the judge and said, ‘I’ve just met all the wrong women.’ And that judge looked at him and said, ‘You’ve just met another one.’ His defense attorney grabbed his jumpsuit and was like ‘Sit down now.’

“In that moment I knew…sign me up for this. Sign me up to be proud to work for the federal court system.”
—Supervisory U.S. Probation Officer Amber R. Lupkes, Northern District of Iowa

Pop Culture Meets the Real Deal in Reel to Real

Actor Vincent D'Onofrio and Boston (MA) Police Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross
It would be great if all crimes could be solved in a mere 60 minutes like they are on television, but we all know that’s not the case. One of the most exciting exhibits at the new National Law Enforcement Museum promises to be Reel to Real. Actor and long-time supporter of the National Law Enforcement Museum Vincent D’Onofrio, recently sat down with Boston (MA) Police Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross for a discussion about the real-life scenarios that have inspired some of our favorite scenes in movies and television.
Visitors will get to see this lively discussion in our new Cop Critique Theater when the museum opens next fall. Our staff recently invited many Museum Insider subscribers to weigh in on their favorite law enforcement show, fictional cop, best police chase and more. Those responses will be used as part of an interactive exhibit just outside the Cop Critique Theater. Did your favorite make the list? Stop by when the museum opens and see for yourself.
Museum goers will also be able to spend time browsing artifacts curated from pop culture such as a Dick Tracy wrist radio from the well-liked comic strip that debuted in 1931 or a sweatshirt worn by the character Jack Bauer from Fox Network’s 24. The Reel to Real exhibit promises a bit of nostalgia and pop culture for everyone.

History's Blotter: First Publicly Gay NYC Police Officer | November 20, 1981

“I am very proud of being a New York City policeman.
And I am equally proud of being gay.”

—Sgt. Charles H. Cochrane, November 20, 1981.
With those words, Sergeant Charles H. Cochrane, Jr. became the first publicly gay New York City police officer. The 14-year veteran of the New York (NY) Police Department testified before the New York City Council on November 20, 1981 as the council debated whether to pass a gay rights bill banning discrimination against gays in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The bill did not pass, but Cochrane’s testimony did make an impact. His decision to come out publicly was one he struggled with for months. “Most officers told me not to do it, that it would ruin my career.” He spoke to a gay community leader who warned Cochrane that he might be labeled “The Gay Cop.”  Undeterred, Cochrane decided to testify. A year later, he revealed in an interview that he had lost one close friend in the department, but that most reaction had been supportive.

In 1982, Cochrane co-founded the Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL. It was one of the first organizations providing support and advocacy for LBGTQ law enforcement professionals.  Cochrane retired from the NYPD five years later. In 2016, the city of New York decided to honor his advocacy and commitment to public service by renaming a street in his honor.

A look back in time at a moment in law enforcement history

For a long time, if you entered any police or sheriff’s department in the country, you would be greeted at the front desk by a sergeant presiding over a large bound book. Everyone who came into the station, every call patrolmen answered—it was all documented in that book, called a blotter. The National Law Enforcement Museum has acquired blotters from all across the United States. They are an important part of our collection—teeming with information about day-to-day law enforcement activities and touching on national events as they affected specific agencies.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt, College Football, & Civil Service Reform

NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in 1895

“If there is any one thing which I believe in even more than in football, it is civil service reform, and I am delighted to find that you are so actively connected with both.”

- Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt to E.E. Garrison, Esq. of the Yale Foot Ball Association

With football season well underway, the National Law Enforcement Museum thought it would be fun to share this gem from our collection. Written during Theodore Roosevelt’s time as Police Commissioner (1895-1897), this letter reveals a bit about his personality and interests. It is one of a series of correspondence between Roosevelt and E.E. Garrison, Esq. of the Yale University Foot Ball Association.

Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2006.282.1.1
View larger image
Before becoming the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt served as the President of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners. A strong proponent of civil service reform at a time when corruption in the NYPD ran deep, Roosevelt worked to clean up the department and the city.

Another subject which Roosevelt was passionate about, was the game of football. So much so, that in 1905, as President, he invited coaches and athletic advisers from Harvard University (his alma mater), Yale University (Harvard’s biggest rival), and Princeton University to the White House to discuss improving the game to make it safer and ensure its longevity. At the time, there were no professional football leagues, and eighteen players died from football injuries that same year. One outcome of the White House meetings was the formation of an intercollegiate committee in 1906 (a precursor to the NCAA) which began changing the rules. This resulted in a sport that more closely resembles football as we know it today.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oral History Interviews in Arizona

Retired Phoenix (AZ) police officer Cecelia Chavez interviews with the National Law Enforcement Museum

Last month the National Law Enforcement Museum conducted oral history filming in Phoenix, Arizona. Staff scheduled in-depth interviews with two retired Phoenix (AZ) Police Department officers for the museum’s archives. The first was with Cecelia Chavez, the first female officer to join the department in 1969. The second interview was with Carroll Cooley, who arrested Ernesto Miranda in 1963. The arrest led to the landmark court case Miranda v Arizona deciding that law enforcement must instruct suspects in custody of their right to remain silent and seek an attorney.

In 1969, the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department issued Officer Chavez this policewoman’s purse.
National Law Enforcement Museum, 2011.41.1
While in Phoenix, the museum invited sworn law enforcement in the surrounding area to be filmed for possible inclusion in the forthcoming exhibit, Officers Stories. This exhibit will introduce the general public to the diverse experiences of American law enforcement in officers’ own words. The stories will vary from serious and poignant to humorous and unexpected. Come see Officers Stories at the National Law Enforcement Museum when it opens next year!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hawaii Five-O, a Lasting Favorite

Jack Lord as Detective Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O
While the origin of the police procedural can be traced back more than a century, only a few have remained steadfast in their popularity. Hawaii Five-O, with its iconic theme song, beautiful setting, and Detective Steve McGarrett’s signature line, “Book ‘em, Danno!” (not to mention, his perfectly coiffed hair) aired for 12 seasons (1968-1980).

The show’s main character, Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), led a fictional group of state police officers who reported directly to the governor, thwarting spies and breaking up crime syndicates around the islands. Before his prominent role in the show as Detective Chin Ho Kelly, actor Kam Fong Chun had been an officer with the Honolulu (HI) Police Department for 16 years. According to the HPD, “During his 10 years on the show, Mr. Chun always strove to promote a positive image of Hawaii law enforcement and was a role model for many local youths.”

Reruns of the original Hawaii Five-O still pop up from time to time, and a modern reboot has been on air since 2010 (called Hawaii Five-0, the letter O was changed to the number 0). With one of Jack Lord’s jackets and a press kit from the original show in the National Law Enforcement Museum’s collection, the legacy of this show will remain persevered for history.

Jacket worn by Jack Lord in Hawaii Five-O. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2008.72.2

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 fieldtripzoom.com.


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.