The National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building officially opened its doors to the public last week, welcoming thousands to both a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community day celebrating the Museum's grand opening — a feat 20 years in the making.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony — held on Thursday, October 11, 2018 — drew hundreds of attendees from across the country representing current and retired members of law enforcement and their families, members of the community and general public, as well as dignitaries and celebrities.
Remarks were kicked off by renowned actor Clint Eastwood who has served as the honorary chairman of the fundraising campaign for the Museum since its inception.
"Long before I was telling people to get off my lawn, I was telling them to go ahead and make my day," Eastwood said. "I won't say either of those things today, I just want to say how much I appreciate being involved with the [National Law Enforcement Museum] and police officers in general. I've been lucky enough to portray them, lucky enough to make a living portraying them and I'm glad to be here."
Also delivering remarks at the ceremony, were National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund founding CEO Craig Floyd and Museum Executive Director David Brant; former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft; U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser; U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke; Motorola Solutions Chairman and CEO Greg Brown; and Retired Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who discussed changes in law enforcement over his more than 50-year career, as well as the importance of engaging the community.
"Policing has gone through triumphs, we've gone through tragedies, we've gone through controversy--you name it, our profession has gone through it, and that continues today," said Ramsey. "I really see police as more of a thread that is woven throughout the communities we serve--a thread that actually helps hold together the fabric of democracy," continued Ramsey. "We are no longer just expected to respond to calls for service, we're expected to deal with mental health issues, we're expected to deal with the opioid crisis, we're expected to deal with immigration issues, we're supposed to build trust and legitimacy in some of our more challenged neighborhoods that, in some cases, never trusted police and, in some cases, for very good reasons."
Ramsey concluded by sharing some advice for visitors and law enforcement: "When you go into the Museum, I ask that you look beyond the artifacts that are in the Museum. Look beyond some of the displays and interactive videos [...] and think about the people that serve. Think about the period of time in which they served. I want you to think about why it is so important that, as a profession, we don't act as if we can do it all by ourselves."
A community block party to celebrate the first day of public ticket sales kicked off on Saturday, October 13, 2018 with the Run for the Badge 5K race. Visitors and their families were treated to a variety of outdoor attractions as part of the family-friendly event--K9 demonstrations, historic police cars, face-painting and balloon animals, as well as live music. Also present was a temporary experiential installation entitled "The Bridge" that invited visitors to explore and interact with real stories and content from community members and law enforcement to discover what unites us.
The Museum, located in historic Judiciary Square, tells the story of American law enforcement through pivotal moments in history that changed policing, beginning with the earliest forms of colonial law and order, through the formation of the FBI, the civil rights movement, the 9/11 terror attacks, and current day events like Ferguson, Mo. and community relations. It is the only Museum in the country that explores nearly every facet of American law enforcement
"Over the last decade, the National Law Enforcement Museum has worked with dozens of law enforcement experts, historians, academics and community leaders to develop the core of the Museum's exhibitions and programming to ensure an accurate, unbiased portrayal of American law enforcement," said Museum executive director David Brant.
Visitors "walk in the shoes" of law enforcement officers with the help of the Museum's interactive and experiential exhibits, like: 911 Emergency Ops, where visitors take on the role of a 911 operator, hearing scripted 911 calls and dispatching first responders to assist; Take the Case, which invites visitors to use actual law enforcement techniques to collect and analyze evidence, interview suspects, and solve simulated crimes; as well as The Training Simulator, which places visitors in true-to-life simulations involving law enforcement officers and citizens that are stressful and require complex decision making.
As part of the Museum's commitment to improving the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve, the Museum will also launch an ongoing series of programs and events later this month that address timely topics--like immigration, opioids, and community relations--as well as programs that discuss law enforcement in pop culture, interviews with law enforcement leaders, and educational workshops and activities for children of all ages.
"Law enforcement has played a pivotal role in shaping our everyday lives and our nation's history," said Rebecca Looney, Senior Director of Exhibits & Programs. "We're excited for visitors to explore the role and history of law enforcement and to experience first-hand what the work of law enforcement entails, while serving as a platform for much-needed conversations for the sake and safety of our communities and law enforcement professionals."
The Museum is housed inside a 57,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that is mostly underground and named after the founding partner--Motorola Solutions and its charitable foundation--which graciously contributed more than $18 million to the construction and establishment of the National Law Enforcement Museum, including in-kind support.
"We are honored to be part of this historic occasion – opening a Museum that tells the story of U.S. law enforcement," said Greg Brown, chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions. "As the leading provider of mission-critical communications and video solutions for public safety users, our support for the Museum is rooted in our belief that the story of law enforcement – the story of our customers – needs to be told. We are proud to support the Museum's efforts to bring to life the full scope of law enforcement."
"Our goal is for every Museum visitor to leave with a better understanding of the vital role that law enforcement plays in our society and they will hopefully realize that public safety is a shared responsibility," said Craig Floyd, founding CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. "Law enforcement needs to know they must work constantly to earn the support and respect of the communities they serve."
The National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building is located at Judiciary Square – 444 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 — just blocks from the National Mall and numerous DC landmarks, and is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (and from 10 am to 9 pm on Thursdays).
For more information about the National Law Enforcement Museum and updates on grand opening events, please visit LawEnforcementMuseum.org.