Law Enforcement Valentines

Law Enforcement Valentines

For six years, the Museum has been developing its collection, which now comprises over 15,000 artifacts. One would think that, given the nature of policing, the bulk of the Museum’s collection is of a serious nature: uniforms, equipment and other tools of the trade, photographs of officers doing their work, items related to bad guys, materials to help us live safer lives, and so on. While many of the objects do relate to the work of law enforcement, there are some light-hearted and fun objects, too, including many relating to pop culture.

Given that Valentine’s Day was earlier this week, we invite you to “poleece” check out three items in the collection directly related to Valentine’s Day and policing that we hope you’ll enjoy.

The first is a mechanical valentine, likely made ca. 1940s-50s, which features a drawing of a portly police officer with a jolly demeanor and a playful, upside down clown-like creature. The clown rotates back and forth, asking the recipient to “Be my valentine! and ‘poleece’ stop juggling my heart around.”

Police valentine, ca. 1940-1950. 2006.268.1. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

Since the item was donated because of the police theme, we don’t know much about the valentine sender and recipient or what their connection to law enforcement may have been, beyond the message on the back, “To Betty / From / Mum and Dad / with love.”

The second valentine, also believed to be from ca. 1940s-50s, pictures two rosy-cheeked figures gazing at one another—a blonde girl dressed in purple walking a dog and a boy dressed as a traffic cop. It reads, “Come ahead and ‘police’ be my valentine.”

Police valentine, ca. 1940-1950. 2010.7.1. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

The third item is a cartoon from “Pillow to Post,” by Don Malone. We have little information about the cartoon strip, but it appears to have been printed ca. mid 20th century.  The theme and the punchline, however, are universal. Although the cartoon’s police character is well-intentioned, it appears that he couldn’t resist sampling his wife’s Valentine’s Day gift himself first—and perhaps got a little carried away!

Cartoon: Don Malone Drawing, “Remember Valentine’s Day,” ca. mid 20th century. 2006.280.35. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

If you have any thoughts to share about the popular portrayals of law enforcement throughout time—anything from law enforcement pictured on valentines or other greeting cards to officers depicted in cartoons, radio shows, television and movies to games, toys, lunchboxes, and more—we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact


901 E Street, NW, Suite 100 | Washington, DC 20004-2025 | phone 202.737.3400 | fax 202.737.3405 |