Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum

I’m on vacation again, and I have already visited several museums. In the near future, I will be posting more frequently, twice a month at least, but not sure when that will happen yet. I will have to plan better and eke out more time to blog. However, before I attempt to start on the new adventure, I have to catch up on the backlog, so continuing in Seattle…

Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, located in Seattle, Washington

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The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum is open from 11am to 4pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $4, which is a rather decent price for a museum of its size. The museum is easily reachable by Seattle public transportation. It is also accessible by car, but I wouldn’t advise it as the the museum doesn’t have free parking, only street parking and parking lots. The police museum is really close to the Klondike Gold Rush Historic Park, so one can easily see the two places on the same day. (They’re both pretty inexpensive and very educational.)

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The museum covers the history of the Seattle Police department and  the King County Sheriff’s Office, and helps to enlighten the public about the police force. The museum consists of one large room that is divided into two sections with various artifacts and photographs on display, and a smaller room that is the interactive area. The first section of the larger room gives a history of the police in general, and why the police is a necessity. Visitors can learn about police history and how various aspects, such as cultural, technological, and social, have gradually changed from when the police originally formed to now.

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I found the display on the history of police forensics to be fascinating. People now know that the police use fingerprinting primarily for identification, but not what was used before. Prior, the police used Bertillon measurement aka anthropometry, which is the measurement of the human individual. Anthropometry was the first scientific system used for identification, but is rather inaccurate since many people can have the same measurements. The use of fingerprints for identification have since superseded anthropometry, and has proven to be more conclusive for criminal identification.

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The smaller interactive room is aimed at children rather than adults. Children can dress up as police officers, and try on real police uniforms, hats, and helmets. Also, part of the interactive action area is a 911 dispatcher console and a historical jail cell.

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The second section of the large room continues to show the evolution of the police department through artifacts and photographs. Visitors can see historical handcuffs and foot cuffs used to restraint criminals. I particularly enjoyed the display on the new developments of the police department, such as the patrol light and the breath test for blood alcohol level. It was very interesting to see how the modern breathalyzer evolved from a rather complex looking science experiment to the original breathalyzer that hid most of the science inside a chunky device, and then finally to the modern portable breathalyzers. Another display that captured my attention was about the Green River Killer, aka Gary Ridgway, who killed numerous women in the 1980s and 1990s in Washington state. The museum ends with the additional responsibilities, such as regulating traffic and handling riots and protests, that the police department now face in addition to catching criminals and maintaining public safety.

I spent a total of about 45 minutes at the museum, but one definitely can spend hours in the museum if they want to read all the descriptions. (I mostly took pictures and read the descriptions for the displays that captured my attention.) For the price I paid for admission and for the information inside the museum, I think the museum was worth every penny. (There aren’t many museums that contain so much information for under $5 anymore.) Since the museum contains plenty of information to keep the older children and adults occupied, and also has the interactive area for children, the museum can be a fun family outing for those interested in the police. All in all, the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum is a must see for anyone interested in the police, but can be a inexpensive, fun and educational experience for the casual visitor.

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