Washington museum to herald the art of police work

Washington DC, with an assemblage of world class museums on everything from textiles to espionage, broke ground Thursday on a new institution dedicated to the art of policing.

The National Law Enforcement Museum, to open in 2013, will cover "more than three centuries of law enforcement officers protecting their fellow citizens, advancing the cause of justice, and establishing a tradition of service that continues to keep us safe," said US Attorney General Eric Holder.

"We will be able to step into the shoes of dispatchers, police officers, and detectives - from the distant dawn of the 18th Century to the demanding days of the 21st," said Holder, sometimes referred to as America's top law enforcement officer.

The museum is to be located in downtown Washington in the city's historic Judiciary Square section, site of a memorial to fallen law enforcement officers and numerous courthouses, and a stone's throw from the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI.)

The museum will focus in large part, Holder said, on the experience of the everyday cop on the beat.

"We will see the story of the traffic cop who ran into the path of an oncoming train to save a small child and the emergency responder who raced through gunfire to protect his fellow officers from danger."

The new museum will cost about 80 million dollars to build, with funds collected mostly from private donations, Holder said.

It is to have some 14,000 objects from police departments across the United States, including objects once owned by late FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, including his badges, his telephone and other artifacts from his office.

Craig Floyd, the chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which is leading the effort to build the museum, said it will be interactive and high-tech.

"Our greatest selling point is that we will be the newest... with great interactive technology that other museums don't have," Floyd said.

"You will be able to compare clues from an original crime scene, to take a finger print and try to match against other finger prints," he said, adding that another display dealing with autopsies would be "tastefully done."

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