The enthusiasm, passion, and excitement were palpable among the more than 500 law enforcement and criminal justice professionals as well as allied supporters in attendance at the National Law Enforcement Museum Gala held last month in Washington, D.C.

It was an evening replete with education about the first national museum of its kind that is in the works to honor the law enforcement profession and serve as a natural extension to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

The museum will be a place where people can learn about the public service provided by the nation’s law enforcement heroes.

Stories of Service and Sacrifice

By the end of 2012, construction drawings for the building and design drawings for exhibits will be drafted and completed. Construction on the museum’s structure is expected to begin in spring 2013, and the museum will be built from the underground infrastructure. Construction will take approximately two years to complete. The museum is scheduled to open spring 2015.

“Reel to Real” was the theme of the third-annual fundraiser held October 12 to raise additional money for the museum construction, exhibits, and operation. The fictional cop characters that played roles both on television and in the movies provided education to the public about the law enforcement profession.

Oftentimes, in real life, police officers do not have the support that the fictional characters have, and they don’t always know how their story will end. Consequently, it is important to tell the real stories of service and sacrifice. The museum will be the place where people can learn about the real life roles that law enforcement officers play throughout the course of their careers.

The gala program began with a series of movie clips that depicted various cop scenes.

“When it comes to pop culture, law enforcement has taken the center stage,” said Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

He noted that only one out of five Americans has any direct contact with law enforcement officers and, consequently, their views are based on what they see on television and in the movies. “Our goal with the “Reel to Real” exhibit is to educate while we entertain,” Floyd said.

Floyd recognized the Museum’s Leadership Council for its vision and strong guidance, and he acknowledged the numerous and varied sponsors who have generously donated substantial amounts of money to the ongoing development and construction of the museum.

He noted that Motorola Solutions approved a new cash gift of $10 million dollars to go to the building of the museum, and the organization committed another $5 million in products and services.

A Vibrant Place of Learning

Floyd indicated the museum will be a vibrant place of learning. It will be the largest and most comprehensive museum honoring the service and sacrifice of all law enforcement officers.

“Tonight is very special. It’s a great celebration. The support from Motorola is about being part of the greater good. I’m inspired by the phenomenal day-to-day work everywhere,” he said.

The museum will also be the showcase for the latest technology and will enhance the visitor experience. The staff will have the latest in law enforcement technology to include mobile scanning devices that will scan inventory.

“Now, it’s all about digital and expertise that turns noise into intelligence that turns into safety. Supporting public safety is at the heart and tradition of their company (Motorola Solutions). The museum will encourage young men and women to pursue a career in law enforcement,” Floyd said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey was the keynote speaker for the event.

“Why do we need a museum?” he asked.

“It will pay honor. It will talk about those of us actually serving in law enforcement today. It will take us through the evolution. As a police officer myself, for over 40 years, it also gives us an opportunity to reflect and think about why you decided to choose law enforcement as a profession.

“When we talk about policing, we lose sight of the history of policing. We’re all caught up in our own time warp. It’s important we understand the legacy left behind by others,” Ramsey said.

Commissioner Ramsey pointed out that law enforcement officers make a difference in people’s lives, and they come home at the end of the day knowing they made a difference. “I don’t know how you capture that in a museum,” Ramsey said.

He added, “I still love doing what I do. You know you’re making a difference.”

He also noted that the museum will help others see that law enforcement is about service to others. It is about protecting the constitutional rights of all people.

“Police are a strong thread that helps to hold together the thread of democracy. People need us. People respect us. People need to learn about us. This museum will give them the opportunity to learn about us,” Ramsey said.

The museum will be interactive and one of high technology. Oftentimes, the popular culture view of law enforcement is sensationalized, but the museum will tell the real story of law enforcement.

There’s One Take on the Street

Floyd honored Hollywood and its use of talent to introduce people to law enforcement.

“The actors, the directors, and the producers put their heart and soul into making shows as realistic as possible about law enforcement. Hollywood has partnered with us over many years to honor the law enforcement profession,” he said.

He pointed out that officers are human and are asked to do extraordinary deeds. In Hollywood, actors may get 20 or more takes to get a scene right but, in reality, officers only get one.

For Dennis Hallion, the Executive Director of the National Troopers Coalition, the gala event brought to mind the meaning of resiliency.

“With all the troopers — state, local, and county — we will continue to have a lot of deaths, but these men and women will go and perform that same job in the same manner because that’s what they believe in. To me, that speaks volumes to the sacrifice and dedication of men and women in law enforcement,” Hallion said.

Undoubtedly, the gala was a celebratory occasion and meaningful event that provided further knowledge and awareness about the meaning of law enforcement and how it is directly tied into the future role of the National Law Enforcement Museum.

Craig Floyd captured the meaning of the evening in one sentence.

“Whether a reel or real cop, we owe all of them,” he said.

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