Po­lice mu­seum to add build­ing.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Noelle Phillips He­len H. Richard­son, The Den­ver Post Noelle Phillips: 303-9541661, nphillips@den­ver­post.com or @Noelle_Phillips

The Den­ver Po­lice Mu­seum rolled out big plans Thurs­day for a new, mul­ti­story build­ing across the street from the Na­tional West­ern Com­plex.

The Den­ver Po­lice Mu­seum rolled out big plans Thurs­day for a new, mul­ti­story build­ing across the street from the Na­tional West­ern Com­plex that will fea­ture vir­tual re­al­ity, crime-scene ex­per­i­ments and a me­mo­rial chapel for fallen of­fi­cers.

“Dusty old dis­play cases — that’s not what this is go­ing to be about,” said Lance Nad­ing, a vol­un­teer with the Den­ver Po­lice Mu­seum whose fa­ther was killed in the line of duty in 1971. “In­stead, you’re more likely to have in­ter­ac­tions like fly­ing a vir­tual he­li­copter than see­ing an old gun.”

For now, the mu­seum is lo­cated in an au­di­to­rium at Den­ver Po­lice Depart­ment head­quar­ters on Chero­kee Street, where some old uni­forms, pic­tures and other dis­plays are pushed against the walls.

The mu­seum should close on a $1 mil­lion real es­tate deal this month to buy a garage and two homes that are now rental prop­er­ties at 4700 Brighton Boule­vard. But the re­al­ity of a new mu­seum is sev­eral years out, mu­seum pres­i­dent Mark Hesse said.

The old build­ings even­tu­ally will be torn down and re­placed with a larger struc­ture to house the col­lec­tion. It will cost an es­ti­mated $15 mil­lion and will be funded through pri­vate do­na­tions, Hesse said.

There’s no need to open a flashy new mu­seum while In­ter­state 70 is un­der con­struc­tion, he said. The mu­seum will rent the build­ing to con­trac­tors work­ing on the in­ter­state project.

For­mer po­lice of­fi­cers and their fam­i­lies are the driv­ing force be­hind the mu­seum. Hesse’s fa­ther was a Den­ver cop from 1957 to 1983.

“This is a way to thank my fa­ther for what he did,” Hesse said.

While the mu­seum will be a cel­e­bra­tion of Den­ver’s po­lice of­fi­cers, it won’t shy away from past con­tro­ver­sies such as a 1961 scan­dal where 47 of­fi­cers were ar­rested for bur­glary, of­ten while on duty.

“We’re go­ing to talk about the scan­dals,” Hesse said. “Young peo­ple to­day are re­ally smart. If you don’t give them an hon­est ac­count­ing, they will see through that.”

The main goal is to en­cour­age young peo­ple to seek ca­reers in law en­force­ment as well as re­store faith and re­spect for po­lice of­fi­cers, who are com­mu­nity ser­vants.

“I want this mu­seum to in­still the val­ues of what a po­lice of­fi­cer is and should be,” said Lou Lopez, a re­tired Den­ver po­lice lieu­tenant. “Be­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer is more than an­swer­ing a call from some­one in the pub­lic. It means step­ping for­ward and giv­ing to the com­mu­nity and get­ting to know the com­mu­nity.”

Pa­trol­men’s badges, some dat­ing to the 1860s, will have a place in the new Den­ver Po­lice Mu­seum along with new, in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits.

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