Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: To Serve and Protect
After visiting the main theater and watching a film introduction to the Museum’s story, visitors can choose to explore several different exhibits. Right outside the theater is an area called To Serve and Protect. Like the main theater, this exhibit space is a point of connection between law enforcement and the visitor. The stories told here will allow visitors to explore and better understanding how law enforcement in America works and how large and small acts of policing affect individuals, communities, and the nation. It also provides a forum where visitors’ opinions, experiences, and ideas about law enforcement can be shared.
Visitors might begin their experience by taking a seat at the To Serve and Protect media display for which the entire area is named. Four to six monitors show a narrated, six-segment audiovisual presentation which runs on a loop. Each segment focuses on a single event—an emotional and compelling story that is told from the viewpoint of officers, victims, and bystanders involved in each incident. The selected events will concretely illustrate the jobs that officers do and, most importantly, how their actions affect the communities in which they work. One of the stories will relate to the U.S. Park Police Eagle One Bell helicopter hanging above, which was used to rescue the victims of the 1982 Air Florida Flight 90 crash into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.
Complementing To Serve and Protect is an interactive media installation titled The Web of Law Enforcement. Visitors can interact with a ten foot-wide touchscreen to learn about the process of law enforcement in America and how the over 18,000 agencies interact to keep society safe. A small text message instructs visitors to select one of the passing crime icons. When they do so, they activate the portion of the web nearest them, and a small text box with an image pops up. The pop-up window contains a brief description of an actual crime and law enforcement’s initial response to it. Visitors can then follow the trail of that crime through the web and see how other agencies were brought into the investigation, arrest, trial, and imprisonment.
Nearby, visitors can access one of two identical computer kiosks that contain information about every department and agency in the United States. They can look up agencies in their hometown or state or agencies across the country at the local, state and federal levels.
Visitors are also invited to make their own connections to the museum and the stories it tells. At a feedback station, visitors can share their beliefs about and experiences with law enforcement, which will help to foster a constructive dialogue between the community, law enforcement, and the Museum. Selected comments will be posted for all to see.
Next month: Spotlight on History Time Capsules