Have you heard?

By Jim Donahue

There will be a Ground Breaking shortly. It will be for the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum. The Museum is going to be in the heart of Washington, D.C. directly across from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Judiciary Square.

The groundbreaking is set to happen on Thursday, October 14, 2010. It is going to be awesome!

For the uninitiated: this is a really BIG DEAL. So far, $40 million has been raised. We have over half of the money needed to complete the Museum. “Where did it come from and how did we get it?” you ask. There have been lots of individuals who have contributed. We have had bunches of Police Unions and Associations that have kicked in.

This would not have happened without the huge gifts from many well-known corporations. You know their names: Motorola, Panasonic, Verizon, Target and many more. They are the company names we find on our gear, in our cars, and on the equipment used to protect us. In the case of Target, a name we find in the communities we protect all throughout the great land.

Raising that cash has taken more that 10 years of hard labor by the NLEOMF staff and volunteers. As cops, we have a working knowledge of the definition of hard labor. That’s what it took to get the money in the bank. We’re not done yet.

On that (hopefully) bright October Thursday, a chrome-plated shovel – or two – will be ceremoniously put in the ground to mark the commencement of construction. In the weeks and months that follow, the fancy chrome shovels will be replaced by hard-working, mud-covered, tough-talking, well-muscled construction workers who will turn the dream of the first National Law Enforcement Museum into a reality.

But, the groundbreaking day will be different. It will conclude with a large “Gala” event. That’s the Washington, D.C. term for a really fancy party. It’s the kind of event to which I am not usually invited. Any other time, I would be standing outside working a detail, providing security. But, not this time. This time, I get to be on the inside.

This Gala Event will host folks of style, of taste and dignity. (Note: this will be at the opposite end of the social spectrum from the locker room at shift change.) There will be black ties and men in tuxedos. Gorgeous ladies in beautiful gowns will abound. There will be a sense of ‘richness’ in the air.

We are all invited. This is OUR party.

I must admit: this Gala Event may not be within the budget of a lot of cops (like me). However, that doesn’t mean you and I must sit this one out. We can be part of the festivities.

At the next meeting of your F.O.P. Lodge, P.B.A. Lodge, or other local association, I encourage you to consider sending someone. This is the place for the folks who lead us in our brotherhood. They needn’t be high and mighty – just leaders. The notion of pooling our resources to get a job done isn’t new to a cop.

Why should this Gala Event be attended by cops who have experienced the streets, made the arrests, carried their weapons, and protected America? This is our chance – as a community – to thank the professionals of the NLEOMF staff that have made the museum possible.

They deserve our thanks. They deserve to be recognized. We need to do it in the national limelight. The Washington elite need to know just how much we value these folks and all they do for us. Yes, we put bad guys in jail and put our lives on the line. I haven’t forgotten that. But these folks are telling our story. They are making sure that all of the good folks in America know we are there and what we are dong.

Frankly, I doubt that I can attend. But, I can send a card to the staff expressing my thanks. (BTW, send it to the attention of Deloris. I’ve heard that she makes all the wheels turn in the office.)

I could send flowers to the office on that great day in October. They will be from my wife and me.

Craig Floyd deserves a gold star. He has been the man of vision and is truly one of a kind. Maybe I’ll call him so that I can say “thank you,” personally. No voice mail message for this one, Craig!

There are plenty of other NLEOMF staff who made this happen, too. There are also the Ambassadors who have volunteered and raised lots of money. The list goes on. They will all be at the Gala.

I may not be there in person. But, I will be there in spirit. My pride, congratulations and gratitude for a job well done will precede me.

Even if I don’t make it to the Gala in person, I can still express my heartfelt thanks to our friends – the staff – at the NLEOMF offices who toil every day for us. I can do it.

So can you.

To find out more about Groundbreaking and the Gala you can contact the NLEOMF’s Development office at 202-737-3400 or visit www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org/Groundbreaking.

Jim Donahue is a native of the Midwest, getting his education at Michigan State University. He is now training patrol officers on Technology & Tactics which translates for street cops into how to use patrol car computers — safely.

Jim has recently earned his peace officer certification in the State of Florida. Previously, Jim worked with U.S. Customs & Immigration at the Detroit/Canada border in the year following the attacks of 9/11. He has also worked as a reserve patrolman on the streets of a suburban Detroit community.

Jim has been named an Ambassador for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C.

Jim has worked with police departments across the country on process improvement at the patrol car level, focusing on technology to improve tactics, safety, and productivity. He instructs in a variety of police academies and having taught “Technology and Tactics” to thousands of cops in-service nationally. He is an accomplished grant writer. Jim is a certified ILEETA member.

Jim is married to Paula and they have two children. He is a competitive bodybuilder, with six contests to his credit. Jim is active in his community and his church.