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Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum: Facts and History

By    |   Thursday, 04 Jun 2015 11:46 AM

The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum (SMPM),which was founded by Seattle Police Officer Jim Ritter in 1997, is the largest private police museum that represents a major city in the U.S. to date.

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Here are 7 facts about the history of the SMPM:

1. SMPM’s founding purpose was “to ‘demystify’ the police and educate the public about the historic, cultural, technological and social transitions of the Seattle Police Department and King County Sheriff’s Office,” according to the museum’s website. 

2. The SMPM is a non-profit organization and receives its funds through admission fees, private donations. Gift shop sales, and facility rentals. 

3. The museum’s exhibits offer glimpses into the Seattle Police Department’s entire history, beginning in the 1860’s when it hired its first marshal, and through major events such as the anti-Chinese riots of the 1880’s and the anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations of 1999, according to Seattle Magazine. Artifacts on display include historic photographs and documents, weapons, uniforms, badges, shackles, black jack batons, and many others. 

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4. The SMPM has restored 17 authentic and original police cars from the past 60 years of Seattle law enforcement, according to an article written by founder Jim Ritter on Hagerty.com. Ritter writes that when the restored cars are reintroduced to the public, “their presence in the community bridges the gap between the police and the communities they serve. The concept of preserving police history in this manner is a cost-effective public relations tool for the police agencies involved and is a dynamic way of connecting with the community…” 

5. The oldest car that the SMPM has restored is a 1949 state patrol car, complete with special amenities for law enforcement use, according to the Washington Times. The ’49 model comes complete with its mechanical siren, spotlight, heavy-duty brakes, and three-speed overdrive transmission with a flathead V-8 engine. 

6. Ritter himself drives a restored 1970 Plymouth Satellite police cruiser when he patrols, according to the Auto Evolution. 

7. The museum offers an additional interactive children’s exhibit in which the littles museum visitors may try on authentic police uniforms and bullet-proof vests, as well as turn on police lights, explore a jail cell, and tune into real dispatched police calls from the museum’s records. 

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The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum (SMPM),which was founded by Seattle Police Officer Jim Ritter in 1997, is the largest private police museum that represents a major city in the U.S. to date.
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