Artifact Spotlight: The Stories behind the Names

“Where Policeman Was Killed in Wild Bandit Chase,”
August 22, 1931.

Over the last eight years, the staff of the National Law Enforcement Museum has acquired thousands of artifacts, researched hundreds of stories, and browsed through tons of photographs. All in an effort to better understand the story of American law enforcement.

Sometimes in that effort we happen upon an image or an artifact that connects back to a name we already know—the name of an officer engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

The Museum recently acquired three photographs that related to two fallen officers who were killed 83 years ago: Patrolman Edwin V. Churchill and Patrolman Walter J. Webb of the New York (NY) Police Department.

“Cops Examine Guns Used by Bandits in
Wild Chase that Took Six Lives,” August 22, 1931.

These patrolmen were both shot and killed, on August 21, 1931, during a running shootout through the Bronx and Manhattan with two bandits in a stolen taxicab. Four civilians also died in the shootout, which was widely covered in the newspapers at the time, though mostly forgotten today.

Examining those photographs, and other items like them, can be a solemn reminder of lives lost. But it is also exciting to know that with each piece of information and each historical artifact, the knowledge the Museum holds of the life and times of that fallen officer becomes richer and deeper. The more we know, the better we will tell the story when the Museum opens.