HIDDEN HISTORY: National Law Enforcement Memorial Museum

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Law enforcement agents are tasked with protecting communities, but throughout history, we have seen mistrust between certain groups and the police.

A museum in Washington D.C. hopes to strengthen relationships between the police and people by highlighting the history of law enforcement and having open dialogues about its future. 

Sheriff Lucius Amerson was the first African American elected in the Deep South since reconstruction. 

“Before that, a largely African American population in Macon County was not able to vote for their sheriff,” the National Law Enforcement Museum’s Senior Director of Exhibits and Programs, Rebecca Looney said. 

Looney said Amerson was an Army Veteran who became Sheriff of Macon County, Alabama. 

In the late 1960s following the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Looney said many saw his election as a sign of progress for African Americans fighting for equality and against police brutality. 

“It’s a big step forward,” Looney said. “We said law enforcement needs to reflect our communities.”

Sheriff Amerson’s story represents a defining moment in law enforcement history, and today police departments nationwide acknowledge that recruiting and maintaining a diverse force is still a challenge. 

Recent headlines have focused on the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and the lack of trust between police and the public.

CEO of the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Craig Floyd, said he hopes the museum can play a part in easing those tensions. 

“We are going to have thoughtful important conversations between the public and law enforcement right here in the National Law Enforcement Museum,” Floyd said. 

The museum hopes to share the stories of Sheriff Lucius Amerson, as well as the stories of men and women of all races, who have given their lives in the line of duty, will help visitors better understand the vital role diversity plays in keeping our communities safe. 

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