D.C. Law Enforcement Museum Honors Oklahoma's Own
WASHINGTON, D.C - Between 900,000 and one million law enforcement officers work to serve and protect citizens every day in this country. A new museum just opened in Washington D.C. that's dedicated solely to law enforcement, its history, purpose, and reality.
News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright went to D.C. to tour the museum and show how Oklahoma's Own are represented.
The museum covers law enforcement from the Wild West days to modern times, and Oklahomans have played a role in all of that and are well represented in the museum.
The first place you see an Oklahoma connection inside the National Law Enforcement Museum is in the section called Witness to History, where we found a U.S. Marshals warrant issued in 1903, signed by Marshal Bill Tilghman, who's famous for catching the outlaw Bill Doobin.
There's also Marshal Heck Thomas' 38 caliber revolver. He and Tilghman and Chris Madsen were known in Oklahoma as the Three Guardsmen and are credited with rounding up Doobin's Gang, called "The Wild Bunch" and bringing law and order to the Sooner State.
The History section takes visitors through 2014 and the shooting in Ferguson, a moment in time that led to many changes in law enforcement including the addition of body cameras.
"I think the museum affords us the opportunity to realistically, honestly, and objectively see what law enforcement does day in and day out," said Museum Director Dave Brant.
One interactive display features crimes from all over the country, including one in Oklahoma. One was a witness intimidation case in Tulsa actually where some people tried to kill a witness before they could testify at trial.
It also tells you which agencies were involved in the case. In this case, Tulsa police and the U.S. Marshals service as well.
One of the more sobering exhibits is the Hall of Remembrance , where pictures of officers killed in the line of duty each year line the walls. Nine are Oklahomans, and you can research officers killed in past years as well.
In the Hall of Remembrance, you can find officers killed in the line of duty all over the U.S. Of course, we searched for some killed in Tulsa.
As you'll remember, Gus Spanos was killed just a year into his job - shot and killed during a traffic stop. Also, Tulsa police officer Dick Hobson who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1996, just a few blocks from where Channel 6 used to be located.
You'll also find a door from a Sapulpa police car, signed by members of the department after Officer Larry Cantrell and his father, Charles, were killed in 2005. Charles was doing a ride-along with his son when they swerved to avoid another vehicle and crashed.
The goal of the museum is to give everyday people a chance to walk in an officer's shoes, to understand how law enforcement touches nearly every aspect of our lives from the safety of our neighborhoods, schools, and streets to helping victims and stopping those who refuse to follow the law.
"This is a great opportunity to educate and enlighten people on the impact law enforcement plays in all our lives," said Brant.
The museum's creators hope people leave with a better understanding of what law enforcement does, the many jobs they have, and the role they play in our communities.