Distinctly Downtown: Akron Police Museum

ImageOne day several years ago, a man claiming to be a doctor walked into the offices of the Akron Police Department’s Community Relations bureau, or so the story goes.

“How about I just leave this here, no questions asked?” he said, setting a large bag on the lieutenant’s desk. The lieutenant replied he was going to need just a little more information than that, so he asked the man to open the bag in front of him. The bag, as it turned out, contained a WWII-era German machine gun, which sits in the APD’s storage room to this day. (Owing to recent changes in gun control laws at the time, the anonymous doctor was afraid he might be arrested if anyone found out he owned the weapon).

ImageThe Akron Police Museum was established in 1967 or ’68, according to Jim Conley, a third-generation police officer and member of the department’s Community Relations bureau. “No one’s actually positive,” Conley says, “but it was somewhere around there.” The museum’s artifacts come from a variety of sources, including retired cops and the families of officers who have passed away, Conley said.

The museum’s exhibits are eclectic, sporting everything from photographs and uniforms spanning the department’s history, to a pair of poker machines and other gambling paraphernalia seized in a raid, to the Polyscribe and the Berkley Psychograph, old-school lie detectors dating from the 1960’s and 1930’s, respectively. They’ve got photos and newspaper clippings chronicling the capture of bank robber Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd in Akron in 1930; a collection of bizarre weapons seized in the aftermath of bar fights and domestic disputes; a vintage Harley Davidson patrol vehicle from the 1970’s; they’ve even got the headstone of Akron’s first police chief!

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The Akron Police Museum is located in the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center at 217 South High St. Groups or individuals interested in a tour can contact Community Relations at (330)375-2390. More information about the department and its history (including lots of old photographs and newspaper clippings) can be found here.

By: Tony Baker
DAP intern

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