9/11 exhibit newest addition to National Law Enforcement Museum
The exhibit recognizes the 72 officers killed on September 11, as well as 236 officers who died of illnesses contracted while working in the hazardous conditions at the WTC
It’s just three years old, but the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) Museum opened for the second time on Friday, August 27. Having been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum used the downtime to bring compelling new exhibits and offer more interactive experiences.
Post 9/11: The Evolution of American Law Enforcement is the theme of the newest exhibit. The exhibit tells the story of how the policing profession has evolved since 9/11, 2001.
Among the 20+ artifacts on display are airplane fragments from Flight 93, a steel beam from the World Trade Center, a limestone block from the damaged section of the Pentagon and part of the damaged food cart from Flight 93 when passenger Todd Beamer famously said, “Are you ready? OK. Let's roll.” The exhibit and artifacts will be available for public viewing for one year.
“The terror attacks of September 11, 2001, reshaped the American landscape – and the landscape of American law enforcement," said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto. "Twenty years later, we solemnly recall the heroes lost as a result of those senseless attacks – and honor the ongoing efforts of their law enforcement brothers and sisters to protect us from harm.”
The exhibit aims to educate the public about the silent killers of 9/11. While 72 officers were killed on September 11, that same terrorist attack has claimed more than three times that many lives in the years since. To date, 236 officers have died from illnesses contracted while working in hazardous conditions at the World Trade Center.
Also featured is a new wall of photos depicting all the members of law enforcement who died as a result of 9/11.
In addition, the exhibit relates how 9/11 changed everything. Law enforcement officer’s training and required skill sets have changed dramatically in the wake of terror strikes across the country. The evolving terror threat requires vigilant training and constant updating tactics from the largest metropolitan police force to the local hometown sheriffs.
Charles Fulcher is director of programs for the NLEOMF. His challenge is to tell the story of the diverse 18,000+ agencies that make up American law enforcement.
“It’s a hard thing to do,” he said. “What I hope is that after a visitor leaves here and then sees or hears a news story in the media, that they will listen with new ears and see with new eyes and a new understanding of what an officer might really experience.”
A second new exhibit is an interactive driving simulation sponsored by L3 Harris. Participants can experience what it’s like to drive a police cruiser in various simulated emergency scenarios and address the challenges and hazards an officer might experience. There is no extra cost to experience the driving simulation, but visitors should reserve a spot ahead of time. The L3 PatrolSim is the same driving simulator found in many police academies and is the only one outside of a police academy.
One new way the museum is helping visitors gain deeper understanding of true police experiences is by offering guided tours led by former officers. Guided tours were previously not a part of the regular museum visit. While the museum has always featured exhibits that allow visitors to interact with technology, this new initiative allows real former officers to share their experiences while showing guests around the museum.
One such tour guide is Sgt (ret.) John Selway who served 20 years with Baltimore County Police before offering another eight years to the state of Maryland. He has experienced the loss of many friends and colleagues to line of duty deaths, and he shares those experiences while guiding visitors through the museum. While losing colleagues was personally very difficult for him, he said “this is a great way for me to deal with what I’ve been through. It has made a world of difference for me.” He has 11 friends and colleagues on the wall.
The NLEOMF museum opened in October 2018 and is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement. It’s 57,000 square feet, nearly all of which is underground. The Post 911 exhibit will be at the museum through July 31, 2022.
Learn why museum professionals choose what to address in the 9/11 exhibit:
NEXT: LEOs respond: 20 years later, what are the lasting impacts of the September 11 attacks?