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.