DPLEM Board Studies Other Successful Police Museums

Posted: 10-Jan-2014

In an effort to learn from the experiences of other cities that have established thriving police museums, the Denver PoliceMuseum Board sent members Michael Hesse and SusanSmith, and Retired DPD Officer Leo Bellio to Los Angeles,California for the National Conference of Police Museums fromApril 29 to May 1, 2013.The three attendees said they believe their interaction withmore than 40 police museum officials from other cities andthe informative speakers and presentations will help themguide the board of the Denver Police Museum in its efforts toestablish a world-class facility befitting the city of Denver andthe Denver Police Department.Glynn Martin, Executive Director of the Los AngelesPolice Museum, which hosted the conference, provided aninsightful presentation on the formation of their museumwhich is housed in a 1920’s era police station. It is the onlyremaining police building of its era in Los Angeles. Its annualbudget is approximately $500,000 a year. The facility is staffedby three full time employees. The exhibits are professionallypresented and reflect the rich history of the Los Angeles PoliceDepartment. The museum has recently added what could bereferred to as a large carport which contains a storage area and an outside cover for eight vehicles. The vehicles include a “Paddy wagon,” several period-specific police cars, the vehicleused by the shooters in the North Hollywood Bank shoot out, abullet riddled police cruiser, as well as several armored vehicles.One of the major points gleaned from the Los Angelesmuseum example is the importance of location which isobviously the key to maximum impact. While having a historicbuilding is important, it can make the mission of the museummore difficult and cost a great deal to maintain.While the Los Angeles museum is impressive, it basically isgeared to a mostly adult visitor. They have very little hands-onopportunities for children. The fact that they are not able tohost field trips—which could be underwritten by local donorsand civic organizations—and are only open weekdays wasseen by the Denver delegation as weaknesses that should beconsidered carefully by our board.The inclusion of interactive exhibits or scenarios, likerescuing hostages, driving simulators, scientific analysis incrime fighting such as fingerprinting and DNA, would appealto a younger audience which may bring adults in the door. TheDenver Board’s Mission Statement includes developing a formatthat both young people and adults will find interesting, withinteraction and education being essential.Another subject of particular interest to the Denverdelegation was the importance of establishing more interestin the museum among active police officers. The ClevelandPolice Museum reports it has nearly 100% payroll deductionsparticipation from current officers. The other museums said thatretired officers, spouses and widows were their greatest sourceof volunteers which are essential to keep the museum running.