By Beth Lawrence
During the National Law Enforcement Museum’s work to honor the fallen officers and document the history of American law enforcement, one curator discovered the Sylva Police Department’s Walk for HOPE.
Lily-Katherine Ames discovered the event in an article in Police Chief Magazine while researching how local departments nationwide approach community policing.
“We knew we wanted to create a display in the museum about ongoing community engagement efforts in police departments, and we also knew that we wanted to present a variety of examples from across the country,” Ames said. “To be honest, when I reached out to Chief Hatton and he offered me not only the pink shirt but also the regalia to go with it, I was over the moon.”
Curators asked departments for promotional items such as T-shirts, flyers and baseball caps.
“When Chief Hatton offered the Museum the uniform shirt it was a no-brainer to say yes,” Ames said. “The shirt itself is a great conversation piece about community engagement, especially as Chief Hatton took the time to tell me more about the Walk for Hope and some of the folks in your community who participate. It helps that the shirt is also very eye-catching which draws people to the exhibit. You can see it clear across the museum, and visitors are intrigued by it.”
The shirt will be displayed for at least the next year and perhaps longer.
What made the event exhibit worthy was not only the pink shirt, but participation of SPD officers and command staff.
“A lot of places do walks and fundraisers for breast cancer, which is amazing as it is such a devastating diagnosis for so many people,” Ames said. “But what caught our eye was the sheer level of involvement of the Sylva PD and their commitment to this program in their community. It’s not just about the officers wearing pink shirts, but that the department works to make sure those in their community really feel supported in their struggle, whether they are a breast cancer survivor, facing a current diagnosis and treatment or have lost someone to the disease.”
Museum officials hope as word spreads people will visit, learn more and be encouraged to share what community policing looks like in their area.
The museum has more than 21,000 objects and artifacts that “introduce Museum visitors to the tools, changes, and trends that have shaped law enforcement history from its inception to present times,” Ames said.
The facility also offers experiential and educational tours, workshops and virtual classes for anyone who wants to learn more about all aspects of policing.
There is a Hall of Remembrance for fallen officers, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is across the street.
The museum is located at 444 E St. NW in the Judiciary Square area of Washington, D.C.