It’s tough for everyone these days.  Budgets and pensions are being cut.  Vacant positions aren’t being filled.   Some places have even had layoffs.  Every group, organization, government, and charity seems to have more demands and fewer dollars to cover the needs.

At my house, I’m taking overtime and extra details or side work to keep the bills paid.    Folks don’t have a lot of extra cash right now.

The idea of a national law enforcement museum is really great.  But, do we really need to spend money on that right now?  How do I explain to my wife that I want to make a contribution to the Museum when money is needed for other things?

First, anyone who is feeling this way can take a deep breath.  It’s not how much is contributed by any one of us.   If you want to Scotch tape four quarters to a card, stuff it in an envelope and send it off as your donation – that’s fine.   If you don’t have an extra four quarters right now, that’s OK too.

Just remember that when you do have an extra buck, it would we welcomed by the NLEOMF to build the Museum.  What is important is that we all contribute something, whether it’s cash, a item of memorabilia or our time to help with the project.

WHAT DO I GET OUT OF A MUSEUM?

Remember the last time you were the target of disrespect from some ill-mannered, snot-nosed, dirtbag-in-the-making kid on the street.  You might have been called a name or worse.  You were treated like their worst enemy.

Subject yelling at a cop

Do you remember how that felt?   I do.

Maybe, those kinds of incidents would be less frequent if John Q. Public had a better understanding of what we are trying to do to protect them.  Just maybe we would find that sharing our story would bring about a better understanding and more support for cops on the beat everywhere.

 SO, HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO A MUSEUM?

Answer: museums are places that both memorialize and validate many of America’s truly profound moments in history.  They create a tangible history for experiences that can then be shared by those who weren’t there today and in the future.

Museums create a sense of respectability for an event or an organization, if you will.  The list of museums is endless.  But there are a few that I believe exemplify what I mean:

  • Civil War Museum, Harrisburg, PA
  • World War I Museum, Kansas City, MO
  • World War II Museum, New Orleans, LA
  • U.S. Marines Museum, Triangle, VA
  • U.S. Army Museum, Arlington, VA
  • U.S. Navy Museum, Washington D.C.
  • U.S. Air Force Museum, Dayton, OH
  • Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI

The last entry on the list documents the Industrial Revolution in America.

 

There is currently no national museum for law enforcement.  Like the military, our work continues.  We are the warriors that protect the homeland.   Our Museum and our Memorial will never be finished.

Museum Construction

There are thousands and thousands of artifacts from the policing experience scattered around the nation right now.  Most of them are examples of our best moments.  A few represent our worst.  Collectively, they make up the tapestry that is policing.

Without a national museum as a focal point of assembly, we risk losing these treasures to history. The Museum will be at the crosshairs of our existence.  It will be the living place that constantly changes in order to best tell our story.

THE GAP

There can be no denying that a chasm has developed between cops and certain segments of our population.  In some cases, us guys in uniform have done things to make the situation worse.  Whether intentional or not, it has happened.

The police cannot effectively police a society that doesn’t want to be policed.  Public support is vital to success in our mission.

Creating a national museum is going to help us regain the public support that we once had.  School kids by the tens of thousands go to Washington D.C. on class field trips every year from around the country.

They can be exposed to our story.  They can see first hand what we have done – and continue to do.  They can use all of their senses to know more about the experience of being a cop.  They can know what we face.  They will know that our goal is to protect them.

Those school kids will take pictures with their cell phones and send them off to their friends.   They will go home and tell of what they’ve seen.   Their attitudes about cops will change – even if only a little – and it will be better.

Everything is recorded these days

A few of them will be so touched that they will be led to a career in law enforcement.  They will join our ranks and become our brothers and sisters.

 HAVE WE LEARNED YET?

Through our words and our deeds, we can have a dramatic impact on how individual members of society treat us.  We can make them hate us – forever.  Alternately, we can encourage them love us – or maybe just stop hating us for a while.

We need every friend that we can get.

No, sending those four quarters to the Museum probably won’t have any effect on your next shift.  But, if we all work together, it just might have an effect on the lives of the young cops who will follow in our footsteps in years to come.

This is a risk worth taking and a cause worth supporting.

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this message and allowing me to share my story with you.  I can be contacted with questions or input: EMAIL ME   or call me at my home office (386) 763-3000.

 

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