Memorial fund breaks ground on law enforcement museum

The country's first museum to honor law enforcement will be built almost completely underground, officials said Thursday, and will feature state-of-the-art technology to wow visitors.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund on Thursday broke ground on the museum, which will be located in Washington, across the street from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

The museum is expected to open by the end of 2013 and will showcase technology to interact with visitors. A 911 call center and use-of-force judgment simulator will give visitors a chance to make the type of split-second decisions law enforcement officers make every day. The building also will house a mock forensics lab, allowing visitors the chance to analyze clues and solve crimes.

The museum's capital campaign must raise $25 million between now and the facility's completion. The memorial fund expects the total cost of the museum to reach $80 million. The campaign has received big donations from corporate sponsors and the District of Columbia government, but the largest gift -- a $5 million donation -- came from Police Unity Tour, a network of law enforcement officers across the country who raise awareness for those who have died in the line of duty with an annual four-day bicycle ride from New Jersey to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. The museum will honor the more than 1,800 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty as well as all those who have served, and lived to tell their stories, said NLEOMF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Craig Floyd.

"We recognize that public safety is a partnership between law enforcement and the citizens they serve," Floyd said during Thursday's ceremony. "This museum will strengthen that partnership by helping people to better understand and appreciate the value of policing in America."

Attorney General Eric Holder, who also spoke on Thursday, described himself as a "lifelong admirer of law enforcement."

"I expect that here, where we broke ground today, future generations will be inspired," he said.

The first phase of construction on the museum will begin in the next few weeks.

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