Honoring Those Who Protect and Serve
It is one of the unique venues in Central Florida which attracts visitors from around the country. Of course, it has a special appeal to the over 900,000 law enforcement officers nationwide who dedicate their lives to “Protecting and Serving” in large metropolitan cities and the smallest rural community. It is the National Police Museum and Hall of Fame in Titusville.
Barry Shepherd, CEO of the Museum, said, “The Police Hall of Fame features the only indoor memorial in the country recognizing all law enforcement officers nationwide who have fallen in the line of duty. It is our promise and our commitment to the surviving families and our shared compassion which drives us to remember that freedom is not free, and that evil easily triumphs when good men and women do nothing.”
Birth of a Memorial
In 1960, retired Police Chief Gerald Arenberg founded the National Police Museum and Hall of Fame, which opened in Northport, Florida, south of Sarasota. A short time later, the name was changed to American Police Hall of Fame and Museum. The first facility was a small building of approximately 3,500-sq.-ft. and was outfitted mainly with static exhibits which was customary during that time period. In 1961, the facility began collecting and displaying the names of fallen officers from around the country and in 1961, the organization helped orchestrate and lobby for legislation that John F. Kennedy wrote into law in 1962 which designated May 15 to nationally and annually be known as Peace Officers Memorial Day.
In the fall of 1988, a three-story, 38,000-sq.-ft. building in Miami was purchased and in 1989, renovations began so that the museum could be ready to open in 1990. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was the previous tenant, so utilizing this building seemed to be a perfect fit. The ground level floor was comprised of a memorial area and a large training room for law enforcement and security officers to train and educate in. The second story was the museum floor, and exhibits filled the area from floor to ceiling. The top floor was the organization’s headquarters and administration area.
The Move to Titusville
In 2001, it was becoming more apparent that the neighborhood was deteriorating and that visitor attendance was beginning to drop. The museum was going to require larger accommodations in order to expand and unfortunately, the memorial area needed to be expanded as well. After much deliberation, a search committee was formed and tasked with locating a facility and area that would take the organization and facility into the 21st century and beyond. The search team decided that staying in the state of Florida was preferable and that geographically, Central Florida made the best sense. The initial search brought the team into the city of Titusville where they met several members of the city council and government and were persuaded to make Titusville the team’s top choice.
In 2002, a five-acre tract of land was purchased from Boeing inside an area that today is called “Riverfront Center.” Titusville-based, RUSH Construction, Inc. was the recommended and chosen contractor for the 50,000-sq.-ft. project, which was completed on time and under budget for a grand opening in spring 2003. Shepherd said, “The city of Titusville and the Space Coast Economic Development Commission were so welcoming and made some great promises, and RUSH Construction worked to make it all happen. We are glad to be a part of Titusville and of Brevard County. The citizens here are our type of people…they are patriotic and bleed red, white and blue.”