WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - There's a new place in our nation's capital to learn about the country's law enforcement history and to honor the sacrifice of our men in women in blue.
The National Law Enforcement Museum opens to the public Saturday. The 57,000 sq. ft. museum is 20 years in the making and houses 21,000 artifacts in its collection.
Rebecca Looney, Senior Director of Exhibits and Programs, took Gray Television Washington News Bureau cameras on a tour.
She showed us the bulletproof vest that saved Agent Eric Evers' life during the 1993 standoff between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas.
"It's covered in dirt, blood, grime," said Looney. "It was a meaningful object for [Evers] to give us. It took him many, many years to get it back because it was evidence in the trial."
Items like the "D.C. Sniper's" rifle and other evidence left at one of the crime scenes in 2002 are sure to bring back memories for those who lived through it.
"The emotion and difficulty of that time and the difficulty it had on D.C.," said Looney.
In the "Reel to Real" exhibit, visitors will find police-inspired pop culture artifacts and toys.
"One of our most common things to hear someone say is, 'I have this great toy car collection,'" said Looney. "We have them from states from all around the country, Texas, Utah, North Carolina."
The museum was built right across the street from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Now, visitors will be able to learn the stories behind the names etched into the memorial's wall. On display in the Hall of Remembrance are the faces of those killed in the line of duty over the past year.
"It's intended for our visitors, who may not be aware of the memorial, to understand the sacrifice and the day-to-day losses the law enforcement has suffered," said Executive Director Dave Brant.
When asked what he hopes visitors will take away from the museum experience, Brant said, "It will create an awareness that will benefit everyone."
The museum is not funded by taxpayer dollars, so there is a fee to enter. For more information, click "Related Links."