National Law Enforcement Museum Project Soldiers On

Planners for the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum recently announced an extended timeline and substantial cost-saving measures to keep the project on track despite the nation’s current economic challenges.

In 2000, Congress authorized the museum to be built on federal land across the street from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.’s historic Judiciary Square, and required a start date by November 2010. The new plan calls for construction to commence in the fall of 2010, with completion expected by mid-2013.

The cost of the project will be reduced by $29 million, largely the result of moving off-site an entire level of administrative space intended for staff, and scrapping plans to relocate a maze of utility lines that run under a portion of the land Congress has designated for the museum. In addition to lower construction expenses, the cost of operating the museum once it opens also will be substantially reduced under the new plan.

"The result of these modifications will be a high-tech, interactive, world-class museum exploring our nation's law enforcement profession, at a much more affordable price in today's difficult economy," said Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), which is in charge of the project. "These changes were necessary and fiscally prudent given the stark economic realities we are dealing with.”

The revised plan was approved in early February by the NLEOMF's Board of Directors, which represents 16 of the country's largest and most prestigious law enforcement organizations.

Scaling Back

The overall size of the museum will be scaled back from a four-level, 100,000 square foot building to a three-level, 55,000 square foot facility. "We recognized how hard it is to borrow and raise money in the current economic climate," said Floyd. "So, we challenged our architects, Davis Buckley Architects and Planners, to develop a plan that would substantially reduce costs without impacting our overall mission, and they figured out a way to make it happen.”

In addition to the administrative level of the building, other areas to be eliminated or reduced include the cafe and atrium space. Two-thirds of the exhibit space will be retained under the revised plan, along with a theater, museum shop and dedicated areas for education and research. The museum's glass entrance pavilions and plaza also will remain unchanged.

The authorizing law requires the museum to be funded by private donations. Floyd reported that more than $37 million has been raised to date for the museum, but he said that the economic downturn has slowed the effort and the credit crisis has made it virtually impossible to borrow money at affordable rates for museum projects.

"The credit market and the economy will revive, but the timing is uncertain, and we want to see our museum become a reality sooner rather than later," Floyd stated. "The story of law enforcement's extraordinary contributions to our nation needs and deserves to be told. We are going to make it happen.”

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