The Spokane Law Enforcement Museum is turning a year old this week, and to celebrate it’s open for visitors daily through Saturday.
Susan Walker, secretary and treasurer of the museum, said it remains one of the best-kept secrets in Spokane.
“People still don’t know we are here, unless they happen to walk by and it’s a Tuesday and we’re open,” Walker said. “We really need some more volunteers. If we had more people, we could be open longer hours.”
There are more than 3,000 items in the museum’s collection, including uniforms, badges, cars and motorcycles, as well as guns and a real ball and chain.
Over the past year, the museum has had almost 700 visitors, and volunteers have put in more than 1,500 hours.
Most of the artifacts at the museum come from Glen Whiteley’s enormous private collection of law enforcement memorabilia – Whiteley is the founder, president and curator of the museum.
Walker and her husband, Bob Walker, who’s a retired Spokane Police Department officer, are the driving forces behind the museum.
“The compliments we get from people are phenomenal,” Walker said. “We have visitors from all over the country and from Canada. There is so much history here.”
One display is dedicated to William Horatio Lewis, who’s widely recognized as Spokane’s first police detective. He moved to town in 1887. The museum also features one of the first women’s police uniforms, and photos and portraits of Spokane police chiefs and officers through the years.
When the museum opened last year, the plan was to do outreach to schools in the area but a lack of time and volunteers has prevented that.
“One of our main goals is to be available to students and to give more school tours,” Walker said. “We want to teach the younger generation to have more respect for law enforcement and the line of work they are in.”
To help with outreach and tours, Walker said the museum could benefit from retired police officers and their families because they are already familiar with some of the history and police lingo.
Overall, it’s been a great first year.
“People still bring us stuff every week,” Walker said. “There’s always something new here. I’m always amazed by the things people bring us.”