My Changing Perceptions of Law Enforcement

One of the important parts of the National Law Enforcement Museum’s mission is changing public perceptions of law enforcement. Big task, right? Well, I’m a good example of an early Museum success story. When I started working here over two years ago, I didn’t have a bad perception of law enforcement, and I generally liked the idea that they are here, but I definitely didn’t think about the job officers do and the risks they take.
After I started working here, my perceptions began to change. I began learning about the profession through exhibit designs that reinforce the great things law enforcement officers have done and still do to keep us safe. As a member of the Memorial Fund staff, I attended a wreath laying ceremony for fallen officers at the Memorial. The speakers, both law enforcement and survivors, touched me. Then during Police Week, I got to talk to many law enforcement officers and their loved ones. This gave law enforcement a more human face and really made me appreciate how the job affects not just the officers but also their families.
I was surprised by how quickly my perceptions of law enforcement changed. I went from passing a cop and praying that they wouldn’t pull me over to wanting to walk up to officers on street corners and talk to them about who they are and why they became an officer. I hope that the educational programs and exhibits we’re creating for the Museum will be able to alter the public’s perceptions for the better, like working here has changed mine. Even if we don’t manage to change our visitors’ feelings towards law enforcement, I hope that we will be able to open up positive dialog between law enforcement and the public they protect.
For me, learning about and being involved in law enforcement events has changed my perception of law enforcement. I’m interested to see if anyone else has had a similar experience. If so, please share it!