Published January 13, 2015
A police museum unveiled Wednesday offers adults the chance to grab a gun and shoot a suspect in a simulated test, then compare their judgment to that of a New York Police Department officer.
The computer second-guesses whether participants were right to fire.
"It puts you in the driver's seat, in the shoes of a police officer when they come across an incident," museum Executive Director Todd Ciaravino said. "Then the computer tells you — good judgment, bad judgment."
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the city's police officers have taken on special hero status and the New York City Police Museum — located six blocks from the ruins of the World Trade Center — will reflect that when it opens to the public in mid-January.
A room honors the 23 officers who lost their lives at ground zero. Their photos and badges hang on a wall. Nearby, Officer Moira Smith is seen in a photograph, escorting a bloodied man minutes before she was killed.
The five-story museum, moved from a smaller location, is built on the site where New York's first police precinct opened in 1884. The precinct closed in 1977 in the wake of a corruption scandal.
But visitors looking for a comprehensive history of the police department — warts and all — will be disappointed. The museum does not note some recent controversies, including the cases of Abner Louima, sodomized with a broom handle by officers in a stationhouse.
"What this should be about is the day-to-day work of the police department, not the singular incident," said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was at the unveiling.
The five-floor museum provides a unique look into the history of policing. On display is a Tommy .45-caliber submachine gun with a cylinder holding 100 rounds — a state-of-the-art weapon that criminals like Al Capone relied on in the 1920s.
There are also so-called gentlemen's pistols, such as a gun hidden in a cane, used in the late 1800s by Manhattan men as protection from street gangs.
A fully furnished apartment section "shows a burglary scene, with simulations of blood on the carpet, how the suspect entered and other clues police used in the investigation," said Lynn Boccardi, of Loffredo Brooks Architects, which executed the $4 million renovation of the 17,000 square foot museum.
In another room, marijuana pipes and crack vials accompany simulated samples of illegal substances from liquid Ecstasy to angel dust. The display is among those that will be used for a 17-week course for fifth- and sixth-graders called Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE.