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
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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

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.