Tuesday, March 13, 2018

One Officer's Story: Patricia Kelly

Patricia Kelly being sworn in as a police officer

“She is the only woman in the world who raised twin astronauts. She raised two sons, not just brothers but twins, who flew up into the heavens."  

Richard Kelly, Husband

Officer Patricia Kelly was a trailblazer. As the first female police officer with the West Orange (NJ) Police Department, she was adept at breaking up bar fights while working the midnight shift and raising twin sons at home. At just 5 feet, 4 inches tall, her family called her fearless — and they should know. Sons Mark and Scott Kelly, identical twins, both blazed their own trails as NASA astronauts. Her husband Richard was a Navy paratrooper who later became a West Orange (NJ) police officer  working alongside his wife. Kelly was assigned to patrol with Harry Phillips, who went on to become Executive Director of the Police Unity tour.

Scott Kelly recalled his mother was the first woman to pass the men’s physical fitness test. “Patty” Kelly cleared a makeshift blockade of more than seven feet tall in four and a half seconds, earning her a spot as West Orange’s first female police officer. When daughter-in-law U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot at an Arizona campaign event in 2011, Mark Kelly says it was his mother who stayed by her side while she recovered.

Born the oldest of four children in New York’s Bronx borough, Kelly married when she was 20 years old. In addition to her ten years of service with the police department in West Orange, Kelly was also a prison guard, an Essex Park County (NJ) police officer and served with the Flagler Beach (FL) Police Department before an injury prompted her to retire and move to Texas to be near her grandchildren. Patricia Kelly died in April 2012 of lung cancer but left a lasting legacy as an exceptional person both on the job and off. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Our New National Law Enforcement Museum: Don’t just see it. Experience it.

Opening Fall 2018

Visitors at the new National Law Enforcement Museum won’t just see what it’s like to be in law enforcement — they’ll experience it in an immersive “walk in the shoes” experience that connects visitors to all parts of American law enforcement — past, present and future.

The Museum features more than 20,000 artifacts that depict law enforcement officers, historic events and pop culture, all housed in a 57,000 square foot building conveniently located in the heart of downtown Washington, DC.  The Museum’s interactive exhibits offer something for everyone.

Groups of all ages will enjoy taking part in an authentic law enforcement training simulator experience, trying their hands at fielding 9-1-1 emergency calls or testing their analytical and critical-thinking skills in our Take the Case exhibit. They’ll also hear first-hand accounts of what it’s like to be an officer from those who’ve worn the badge. There’s also theater, classroom and cafĂ© to enhance your Museum experience.

Our Museum isn’t just a fun place to visit, it’s educational too. Guided and self-guided tours are available to help your group discover all the Museum has to offer. Resources such as activity carts, educator guides and lesson plans are available to exercise math, science, engineering and technology (STEM) skills and help students make the most of their visit.  Our Museum Education team can tailor our popular forensics workshops to your group’s individual needs and interests. 

Conveniently located at the Judiciary Square metro station, the Museum is just blocks from the National Mall and numerous DC landmarks, making it an easy stop on your visit to the nation’s capital.  Our Group Tours team can help you plan and coordinate your visit with special group tour discounts, as well as nearby parking, lodging and dining options.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Message from the Executive Director

David L. Brant, Executive Director
National Law Enforcement Museum
From my office in downtown Washington, DC,  I am just blocks from some of the nation’s most prestigious museums.  I’m deeply honored that soon our new National Law Enforcement Museum will be among them, situated in the heart of the nation’s capital and surrounded by some of the country’s most important landmarks.

As a father and grandfather, I am committed to making sure the Museum won’t just be another tourist attraction, but will provide a real educational experience for all visitors — both young and old. Our Museum’s education staff has been working diligently to craft thought-provoking, insightful programs that will engage visitors and ultimately help foster a stronger relationship among law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Visitors will find many interactive and immersive exhibits when the Museum opens its doors this fall. In addition, we’ll be offering guided and self-guided group tours, special workshops and classes, along with activity carts on the exhibit floor and online resources for visitors of all ages.

One of the exciting components of our education program will be distance-learning tools from FieldTripZoom and Streamable Learning. These innovative companies have partnered with the Museum to provide a virtual classroom experience so that students from around the country can participate in our educational programs without ever leaving their own classrooms.

Students and teachers who are not able to travel to Washington, DC can engage with the Museum’s content through several distance learning tools. We currently offer three classes while the Museum is under construction: Law Enforcement and Technology, Women in Law Enforcement and DNA and Investigations.
Many of  you may already be familiar with the Museum’s popular forensics summer camps and workshops. These hands-on experiences take students inside the messy and meticulous world of crime scene analysis and investigations. While our summer camps are designed for students, our forensics workshops can be specially-tailored towards participant groups of any age, from school-aged youth to senior adults.

Our Museum team has really done its homework in developing our educational programs. They’ve formed a Teachers’ Advisory Group to provide regular feedback on the Museum experience and educational programs, as well as solicit new ideas for engaging and educating our visitors.

David L. Brant
Executive Director
National Law Enforcement Museum

Celebrating Women's History Month

“As it turns out, about the time we had our guns out a sergeant pulled up and he was aghast at the fact that policewomen had actually pulled their guns on a man.”
Elizabeth Coffal Robinson, from  Policewomen Who Made History: Breaking through the Ranks

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we also take time to pay homage to Elizabeth Coffal Robinson and Betty Blankenship. Classmates at the Indianapolis (IN) Police Academy in 1967, the two would go on to become the first women assigned to patrol together in the country. Prior to Robinson and Blankenship’s patrol partnership, women in law enforcement performed mainly secretarial or social work duties.

Photograph: Officers Elizabeth Coffal Robinson and Betty Blankenship in uniform,
standing on either side of a man in glasses, 1970. 2011.40.47.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum. Washington, DC.
The pair were assigned to patrol in Car 47. As policewomen, they faced some unique challenges. A senior officer would usually ride with new officers for several months to assist with on-the-job training, but the two new female officers were left on their own.

“We were put out on the street with no training whatever. We had to monitor both radio frequencies, but we had no idea how to even answer the radio,” Blankenship told Indianapolis Magazine.

Their uniforms also posed a challenge. The policewomens’ uniforms included a skirt and heels, making it difficult to run while pursuing a suspect. They were also required to store their handguns in their purses, rather than on a duty belt because policewomen had previously not been assigned to patrol work that might require quick access to a gun.  This made it difficult to reach their guns quickly in an emergency. In response, Robinson and Blankenship came up with a new uniform design, similar to a maternity top which concealed their service weapons underneath, allowing for quicker access than reaching into a purse.

Photograph: Officers Robinson and Blankenship. 2011.40.73.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum. Washington, DC.

Elizabeth Coffal Robinson and Betty Blankenship both rose to the rank of sergeant. Their partnership paved the way for future female law enforcement officers to take on the same responsibilities as their male counterparts.

History's Blotter: The Hanafi Muslim Siege

Some of the ammo and weapons seized by law enforcement following the Hanafi Siege in 1977.

"This was an early wake-up call about violence and terrorism and the extent to which groups will go to engage in violence either for the sake of violence or to make a point."
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International to the Washington Post, March 12, 2007

On March 10, 1977 a dozen men armed with guns, knives and machetes, seized control of three buildings in downtown Washington, DC. They took close to 150 people hostage, most of them from inside the B’nai B’rith headquarters building. A radio reporter and security guard were killed, and several others, including then DC Councilman Marion Barry, were wounded.

The assailants were part of a group known as Hanafi Muslims led by Hamas Abdul Khaalis, a former Nation of Islam secretary who later became critical of the Nation of Islam. He left the group to form a rival Islamic organization known as the Hanafi movement. The group established its headquarters in a home in Washington, DC that had been purchased by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In 1973, seven members of Khaalis’ family were murdered inside the home. Khaalis blamed the Nation of Islam.

Khaalis made three demands during the siege: he wanted the DC government to turn over men who had been convicted of murdering his family along with those convicted of killing Malcolm X. He also wanted a movie about the prophet Mohammed banned because he believed it to be a sacrilegious portrayal.

The gunmen started shooting as soon as they entered the building — killing a young radio reporter named Maurice Williams and a security guard named Mack Cantrell. Councilman Marion Barry walked out of his office to see what was going on and was shot and injured. He made his way back into the council chamber and was rescued by firemen who used a ladder to get him out of the building and take him to the hospital.

During the siege, the Metropolitan (DC) Police Department spent almost 40 hours negotiating with Khaalis, who finally agreed to meet with city officials and Muslim ambassadors from Egypt, Pakistan, and Iran. Metropolitan (DC) Deputy Chief Robert Rabe persuaded Khaalis to leave his stronghold in the B’nai B’rith building, while Police Chief Maurice Cullinane persuaded him to surrender his weapons. The ambassadors convinced Khaalis to release all of the hostages.

On the 40th anniversary of the siege in 2017, Cullinane reflected that he would handle the situation the same way today, telling The Washington Post, “If it meant saving 149 lives, I would still be talking to (Khaalis) on the phone.”

Khaalis and the other gunmen were convicted and sent to prison, where Khaalis died in 2003.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Assistant Special Agent in Charge, US Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration

Richard T. Oakley
Richard T. Oakley grew up in Somerville, New Jersey, and befriended a couple of members of the hometown police department. At the age of 24, he joined the New Brunswick (NJ) Police Department in September 1967 and attended the New Jersey State Police Academy at Sea Girt.

Oakley was assigned to the police department’s patrol division with a starting salary of $5,000 per year and was later promoted to the rank of Detective in the Narcotics and Homicide Division. “Homicide turned out to be the most challenging of my assignments, and the most costly emotionally” says Oakley.

Policing in 1967 was very difficult for minorities. According to Oakley, the black community felt that he had betrayed them; many police departments resisted hiring black officers. “It was not unusual to hear racial slurs over the radio or find racial notes placed on your locker,” he says. “You also had to submit a photo with your application. This was one way to weed out applicants, a practice that would later become unconstitutional.”

In 1972, Oakley joined the Union County (NJ) Prosecutor’s Office as a Narcotics Investigator with the Narcotic Strike Force in West Field (NJ). He worked undercover in several DEA narcotics investigations. At that time, Oakley says the DEA did not have any black agents in the area. Oakley went on to become a Special Agent, undergoing 15 weeks of basic training in Washington, DC, and Quantico, Virginia before spending time in the New York and Newark Field Divisions. Eventually, he started working undercover in two Newark heroin smuggling organizations.

On June 26, 1980, his cover was blown when one of the organizations discovered he  was a DEA Agent. “Once we got into the park, he (the suspect) told me to park the vehicle and he got out. He returned in a few minutes, and I could see that his hands were dirty.” I asked him, “What’s going on? You got people here? What’s up?” He said “no, follow me” and headed down an embankment. “He turned and I could see a Rohm, nickel-plated, brake open 22 caliber pistol in his hand. He fired the first shot which went past my ear, the second shot misfired. I started to run in a zig-zag pattern. Not one of his shots struck me.”

The suspect was apprehended and sentenced to 10 years in Danbury Federal Prison.

In November of 1987, Oakley was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent where he supervised a team of 12 agents in the San Francisco (CA) Field Division, He later transferred to headquarters in Arlington, Virginia where he held several positions including Chief of the Policy and Procedure Unit, Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator for Operations, Special Assistant to the Administrator of DEA, and finally, Secretary of the DEA Career Board. His advice to anyone contemplating a career in law enforcement is to “go into it with the right mindset. Understand that some people will resist your commands, but you should remain the professional that you are and resist the temptation to be pulled in the fray. Understand the laws that you are upholding. Make sure you fully understand the use of deadly force. Understand that the person you are today will change.”

Read Officer Oakley’s story in his own words. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Message from the Executive Director

David L. Brant, Executive Director
National Law Enforcement Museum
As I watch our beautiful National Law Enforcement Museum edge closer to completion, I’m excited by the growing and impressive collection of artifacts that visitors will see when we open our doors this fall.

The Museum is home to more than 20,000 artifacts that tell the story of law enforcement in America. Our Museum team has carefully curated this collection to ensure there’s something of interest to everyone, regardless of whether they have an affiliation with law enforcement.

Visitors will find credentials issued to Deputy Sheriff Ted Hinton, youngest member of the posse that ambushed Bonnie and Clyde. They’ll be able to see a script from the television series Gunsmoke, signed by actor James Arness. There’s also an American flag recovered from 9/11’s Ground Zero along with thousands of other artifacts that tell the story of American law enforcement from those who have worn the badge as well as those who portray law enforcement in pop culture.

In addition to building and managing a world-class collection, they have designed interactive and immersive exhibits which surround these historical treasures. Our team has worked hard to provide an educational and engaging experience for visitors of all ages and from all walks of life. They’ll hear first-hand accounts of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of an officer, as well as try their hand at fielding a simulated 9-1-1 call or step into a police interrogation in our Take the Case exhibit. I hope you’ll be as impressed with the new National Law Enforcement Museum as I am, and I look forward to seeing you at the Museum this fall.


David L. Brant
Executive Director, National Law Enforcement Museum

Monday, February 12, 2018

Making the Museum’s Cast Figures

Deputy Darell Edwards of the
Los Angeles (CA) County Sheriff’s Department
When the National Law Enforcement Museum opens its doors this fall, visitors will see several cast figures of real officers. Two of those figures will depict SWAT officers – Deputy Darell Edwards of the Los Angeles (CA) County Sheriff’s Department and Sergeant Nate Totorica of the Santa Maria (CA) Police Department. Both were willing to endure the arduous process of being made into a cast figure in order to represent their profession in the National Law Enforcement Museum.

Deputy Darell Edwards of the
Los Angeles (CA) County Sheriff’s Department
Created by Atta, Inc. in New York City, the process captures each model in painstaking detail. Subjects are covered in Vaseline, to protect the skin, before plaster bandages are applied. Subjects are then positioned in the pose in which their castings will be displayed. Next, a mold of the subject’s body is made with plaster bandages, positioned so that there are seams on each side of the limbs and chest. Once the plaster has set, the bandages are lifted away from the body.

Face, hands, and feet are cast using a medical grade alginate (similar to what dentists use to make impressions) that also allows the artist to capture minute details. Finally, the subject’s head is cast by wrapping his/her hair in plastic and covering the back of the head in plaster bandages. Alginate is applied to the face and neck.

Sergeant Nate Totorica of the Santa Maria (CA) Police Department.
A full-time SWAT officer, Deputy Edwards received his department’s 2016 Medal of Valor for putting his life on the line during a hostage situation where all of the hostages were saved. His figure will be standing in the SWAT section of the Being an Officer exhibit.

Sergeant Nate Totorica of the Santa Maria (CA) Police Department.
Sergeant Totorica received his department’s Life Saving Award in 2010 and the Mark Riddering Award for his work in narcotics for four consecutive years. His figure will be kneeling on top of the Being An Officer exhibit, facing the museum’s SWAT display.

Be sure to look for the likenesses of Deputy Edwards and Sergeant Totorica when you visit the National Law Enforcement Museum this fall.

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History's Blotter: The First 9-1-1 Call

Photo credit: Haleyville Mayor Ken Sunseri

“I think our town is unique because we’re the home of the first 911 call. Our citizens are proud of that fact, and it’s something we treasure. Millions of lives have been saved in the last 47 years because of that call.”

Mayor Ken Sunseri, Haleyville, Alabama 2015

February 16th marks an important date in first responder history. On this date in 1968, the first 9-1-1 call was placed. Once upon a time, town criers announced emergencies. In 1877, police call boxes were introduced in the United States, but the country lacked a unified emergency call system.

In 1958, Congress called for a universal emergency number. The idea was discussed for more than a decade, with various agencies arguing over who should receive the calls. The National Association of Fire Chiefs called for a consistent emergency number where fire departments could receive emergency calls, while local police departments said they were better equipped to handle the calls. Some hospitals even weighed in saying they should receive the calls.

The president of AT&T and the FCC announced the nationwide emergency number would be 9-1-1. Soon after, the president of Alabama Telephone Company, B.W. Gallagher, decided to make his company the first to implement 9-1-1 emergency calls. He determined that Haleyville, Alabama had the best equipment to quickly convert in order to receive 9-1-1 calls.

Robert Fitzgerald, who also worked for the Alabama Telephone Company, designed and installed the first 9-1-1 system in less than a week. A bright red rotary phone located in the police station took the first 9-1-1 call. It was made by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite. Congressman Tom Bevill answered the phone from the police department with a simple “hello.”

Today an estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 operators in the United States. As many as 80% or more of those calls are made from a wireless device.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

From the Museum Collection — Al Capone’s Bullet-Proof Vest

Bullet-proof vest worn by Al Capone, Collection of
the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2007.139.1.

January also marks the birth and death of one of America’s most notorious gangsters. Al Capone was born on January 17, 1899 and became a central focus of federal law enforcement during Prohibition.

Two federal agencies began working to bring Capone to justice. Eliot Ness was a Prohibition Bureau agent charged with the task. His team raided illegal stills and significantly slowed the cash flow of Capone’s boot-legging operations. Meanwhile, I.R.S. Agent Mike Malone went undercover as a wise guy from Philadelphia to infiltrate Capone’s gang, but the actual take-down of Al Capone is credited to a quiet I.R.S agent named Frank Wilson.

Wilson was one of several I.R.S. agents who were investigating Capone’s financial dealings. By some estimates, Capone raked in $60 million in illegal liquor sales during Prohibition. Combined with another $25 million from gambling establishments and $20 million from vice and other illegal activities, Capone, became of the country’s richest gangsters.

Using forensic accounting, Wilson and his team were able to gather sufficient evidence to indict Capone on charges of tax evasion. Capone was convicted and sentenced to eleven years in prison, most of it served in Alcatraz. After eight years, Capone was released from prison in ill health from the effects of syphilis. He suffered a stroke and died January 25, 1947 at the age of 48.

A bullet-proof vest once worn by the notorious gangster is part of the National Law Enforcement Museum’s collection, and will be on display in the History Beat exhibit when the museum opens this fall.

Monday, January 15, 2018

History's Blotter: Prohibition and the Wickersham Commission

Photo credit: Library of Congress

“Prohibition is an awful flop. We like it. It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it. It's left a trail of graft and slime. It don't prohibit worth a dime.”*

January marks two important dates in law enforcement history. The 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, went into effect on January 16, 1920. Just over a decade later on January 7, 1931, the Wickersham Commission released its much-awaited report on Prohibition and crime.

Prohibition did not ban consumption of alcohol, only its sale, transport, and manufacture. Advocates hoped that a dry country would mark a return to family values and decrease crime. Instead, crime—particularly organized crime—increased.

President Hoover was looking for a way to enforce Prohibition and curb organized crime when he appointed the 11-member Wickersham Commission. Officially known as the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, it was spear-headed by former Attorney General George W. Wickersham and contained some of the most noted names in law enforcement at the time. The primary author of the Commission’s final report was August Vollmer, widely considered the father of modern law enforcement for bringing science into police work and his emphasis on criminal justice reform.

After two years, the Commission published its findings. In the 14-volume report, members were unable to reach a consensus on the efficacy of Prohibition. In addition, the report assessed police interrogation tactics, corruption in police ranks, and problems communities faced when enforcing laws related to Prohibition. The report criticized police for what it called a “general failure” to make arrests in many murders and bank robberies. President Hoover noted that while the report indicated enforcement of Prohibition was ineffective, the commission did not unanimously favor repealing the 18th Amendment. Nonetheless, the 18th Amendment was repealed almost two years later.

*From New York World Columnist Franklin P. Adams’ poem on the Wickersham Commission’s report.

From the Collection

Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, 2009.45.19
In the mid-1990s, church arsons were on the rise in the American South. A number of suspicious fires at churches with predominantly African American parishioners pointed to possible hate crimes. In June of 1996, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was investigating suspicious fires at 37 churches in the South that took place over an 18- month span.

Parishioners and law enforcement sought new ways to raise awareness of the problem and bring the arsonists to justice. Paper fans such as this one were sent to churches around the country. The fan provides a toll-free number for people to report suspicious activity and warns potential arsonists of the 10 to 20-year prison sentence for those convicted of setting the fires.

Message from the Executive Director

David L. Brant, Executive Director
National Law Enforcement Museum
The National Law Enforcement Museum is just months away from opening its doors. When that happens this fall, it will be the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of planning and persistence. This long journey will have been well worth the wait. The Museum’s befitting location in the Judiciary Square neighborhood in our nation’s capital marks the first time a national museum dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement will have a permanent home.

Within the walls of the Museum’s beautiful and contemporary exterior, intriguing objects from our collection of more than 20,000 artifacts, interactive exhibits and educational workshops will appeal to a wide range of visitors, including citizens and those currently serving or with histories of serving in the law enforcement profession. More importantly, the Museum will provide a platform for constructive dialogue to help strengthen relationships shared by law enforcement and the communities they serve.

As a former law enforcement professional, the creation of this Museum makes me proud. I’ve been on the job less than a year, but I can tell you the feedback I’m getting about the Museum is overwhelmingly positive. The Museum offers a meaningful opportunity to help citizens understand the role of law enforcement by providing a ”walk in the shoes” experience in the history of law enforcement, its current practices and what the future may hold. I want to thank you for accompanying us on this long journey and I look forward to seeing you when the Museum opens this fall.


David L. Brant
Executive Director, National Law Enforcement Museum