Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: Officers' Stories
In past issues of the National Law Enforcement Museum Insider, we shared brief overviews of the Museum’s permanent exhibits. Now, we examine some stories and artifacts each exhibit will highlight.
Through first person accounts of life on the job, the Officers’ Stories exhibit will reveal to visitors the rich diversity of American law enforcement, past and present. Officers' Stories will share the wide range of officers’ experiences through a selection of short stories told by the officers who lived them.
One section of this exhibit, called Tools of the Trade, will familiarize visitors with the different kinds of gear law enforcement professionals have used on the job throughout the years. It will begin by introducing some of the most basic tools and equipment used by most law enforcement officers, such as their protective body armor or the radios they carry to communicate.
The exhibit will eventually branch off to show more specialized items which illustrate the amazing variety of law enforcement equipment, such as a radar gun often used during traffic duty or a riot helmet worn for protection during crowd control. Here, visitors may step into the shoes of law enforcement officers by learning about the tools they use.
The Museum is currently in the process of acquiring one exciting piece of equipment for Officers’ Stories—a Chevy Silverado 1500 pick-up truck from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. What’s so special about this truck, you might ask?
It just so happens that this vehicle was used by Wildlife Officer Mike Neal to protect fellow officers during a 2010 parking lot shootout in West Memphis, Arkansas.
After killing two police officers during a traffic stop on May 20, the two gunmen fled the scene. Within hours, they were spotted in a nearby parking lot, where they engaged the first law enforcement officers to arrive on the scene in a firefight. Officer Neal was the first backup officer to arrive. He used his truck to ram the suspects’ van to distract them from shooting at the other officers.
The suspects fired nearly 18 rounds from their AK-47s at Officer Neal. Over a dozen rounds went through Neal’s windshield, dashboard, and grill. The suspects did not survive the shootout, but all of the officers made it out alive. A dramatic yet tragic story, it demonstrates that the tools officers use, including their vehicles, are integral to their work and safety.
Officer Neal’s heroic episode will be told in Officers’ Stories, and the Museum looks forward to displaying his truck for visitors to see—bullet holes and all.