Monday, April 15, 2024

Did you know there’s a Newport News Police Museum? Well, here you go

The Community Education and Outreach Center. (Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily)
The Community Education and Outreach Center. (Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily)

NEWPORT NEWS — Nestled in the historic Hilton Village adjacent to Hilton Tavern is the Newport News Police Department’s Community Education and Outreach Center.

The red, brick building, originally known as the old Hilton Amoco gas station, also houses the department’s museum.

The center was created to establish a positive, working relationship between police and the community by implementing different programs such as the Citizen’s Police Academy and Neighborhood Watch groups.

Originally located at Patrick Henry Mall, the center had a general service area for residents to ask questions about the police department, and a police museum, which featured the history of the Newport News Police Department, from 1896 to the present-day, and old uniforms and equipment donated by retired police officers, according to NNPD’s website.

The center moved to its current location in 2005. Six years later, the building converted its former service area to a meeting room, updated the museum and reopened in 2012.

Inside the meeting room photos and other plaques line the walls. An old police car with working lights and radar is stored in another room and used for children to explore.

Different civic groups such as Explorer Post 224 and the Youth Leadership Program use the meeting space. The classroom is also used by the department for officer equipment re-certifications, promotions, chaplain meetings and other purposes.

The “Police Museum” sign was updated a month ago.

Portrait of George C. Austin, the first African-American Chief of Police for the Newport News Police Department (Photo by Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily).
Portrait of George C. Austin, Newport News Police Department’s first black chief of police. (Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily)

Inside, there’s also a photo of George C. Austin, the city’s first black chief of police along with pictures of when the police force was formed in 1896.

There’s a wall dedicated to the 11 police officers killed in the line of duty since 1919.

Jim Walls, one of the museum’s volunteers, works there four days a week. A retired Newport News Shipyard employee and military veteran, he wanted to learn more about police work so he attended the Newport News Citizen Police Academy.

“I wanted to stay involved in the department,” Walls said.

His favorite part about volunteering at the museum?

“Getting the opportunity to interact and associate with police officers, and to give people information about the department that they would never know or ask,” Walls said.

A call box that police officers on patrol used to contact headquarters (Photo by Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily).
A call box that police officers on patrol used to contact headquarters (Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily).

Next to a retired K-9 police officer’s black, leather jacket, stands a call box that was moved from the Washington and Jefferson intersection in Newport News.

There are also four glass cases, spread throughout the museum that display various items such as an old fingerprint kit, an old breathalyzer, commemorative coins and even brass knuckles and knives confiscated from suspects.

The museum even has its own patrol officer: Officer Bear, a stuffed bear that wears an uniform complete with a radio and a pair of handcuffs, and sits on a working tricycle with sirens.

Police Museum volunteer Jim Walls with Officer 'Bear' (Photo by Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily).
Police Museum volunteer Jim Walls with Officer ‘Bear’ (Julia Marsigliano/HNNDaily)

Visitors are encouraged to ask about the various programs the center offers as well as general inquiries about public safety.

The museum is staffed only with volunteers – it currently has five.

The museum is located on 10188 Warwick Blvd. and is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

After-hour tour groups and use of the meeting space are by appointment only.

If you want to volunteer at the center or another Newport News Police Department location, visit the Community and Education Outreach Center’s website or call 757-928-4295.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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