These days, when bashing the police seems to be the in thing, I am an unashamed supporter of law enforcement. Yes, there are a few bad apples out there. Maybe even more than a few. But for every corrupt or brutal cop, I know that there are tens of thousands of them in small towns and big cities and rural counties across this land who go to work every day and give everything they have to keep the people who live in their communities safe. Good men and women dedicated to making our world a better place for all of us. And all too often they give their lives in the line of duty. These are real heroes and they don’t wear capes.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall Of Fame is a memorial dedicated to the lawmen and women who have sacrificed their lives so the rest of us can be safe. It’s a sobering reminder that every time they pin on their badges and strap on their gun belts and tell their families goodbye before they head out the door for work, it may be the last time.
The memorial, which includes a nice museum, has displays of police equipment, weapons, badges and uniform patches, and more, including this completely restored 1955 Ford police car.
Exhibits in the museum’s gallery help visitors understand the role of the police throughout history and in today’s society. It’s fascinating to see how police technology has evolved over the years.
There is an interesting display of handguns used by police officers or taken from criminals over the years.
This is only a small portion of the many police badges included in the exhibit.
One of the best-known lawmen to come out of South Carolina was Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who took down Depression-era gangsters like John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Adam Richetti. Born on October 24, 1903, in Timmonsville, South Carolina, Purvis graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1925 with a law degree and then joined the FBI. His intelligence, integrity, and work ethic were quickly recognized and he was chosen to command field offices in Birmingham, Alabama, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Cincinnati, Ohio before taking over the Chicago office in 1932. The museum has a display dedicated to Purvis, who stood only 5’4” tall, but left a huge legacy in the world of crime-fighting.
But the main focus here is to honor the men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty. Plaques in the Hall of Fame Memorial Room honor over 300 officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
A book on display in the Memorial Room has a page dedicated to each officer killed while on the job dating back over 200 years. The first officer honored is Robert Maxwell, the sheriff of the old Washington District, who was ambushed on his way to court in 1797.
It doesn’t take long for visitors at the Memorial to realize that the real world day-to-day job of law enforcement officers is much different than what we see on television or movie screens. It’s impossible to come away from the Memorial without a newfound respect for the people who stand behind the thin blue line.
Located at 5400 Broad River Road, in Columbia, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall Of Fame is open Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. The facility is closed on weekends and state holidays. Admission is free and it is handicapped accessible. Guided group tours are available by prior arrangement. While there is no designated RV parking area, the museum staff say it’s fine to park across several sites marked for cars when you visit. For more information, call (803) 896-8199.
Thought For The Day – When we’re young, we sneak out of our houses to go to parties. When we’re old, we sneak out of parties to go home.