ExhibitsWe feature Phoenix's law enforcement history over the past 130 years starting from 1881 until present day both historical photography, equipment, and stories that bring them to life.
Phoenix’s first Marshal’s office & Jail
Explore the rich history of the early years of the Phoenix Police Department which started as city marshals. This exhibit is a mock of an old wood and brick marshals office complete with a jail, Marshal Garfias, and his prisoner Ottis.
You will begin your tour by exploring our beginning as Phoenix City Marshals. As you face the museums reproduction of the “Justice Office” or Marshals office you will notice the old wooden hitching post. Below that you will see a desert scene with an old wagon wheel, fakes snakes and other desert creature amount our “Jail Rock”. This rock with the leg irons was used to hold prisoners prior to an actual marshal’s office and jail were constructed. The rock originated with the Maricopa county sheriff until the sheriff no longer needed it with his new jail. The rock most likely was hauled from the Salt River just south of the valley by wagon. Then a miner would have painstakingly chiseled out the bolt hole for the handmade leg irons made by the locale blacksmith. This is one of two remaining area “Jail Rocks”. Prisoners were normally sentenced to a day outside on the rock or one dollar. Though this may seem harsh by today standards, people were much more conditioned to the desert environment and had more leathered skin from hard pioneer work. It’s been said that they also had a timber with a leg cuff but one prisoner was able to leverage it upon his shoulders and go to the local bar for a drink, ending the use of timbers or logs.
Walk up the wooden sidewalk to view the Marshal Garfias and his prisoner Ottis, who is getting contraband alcohol handed to him through the window. This exhibit is a mock of an old wood and brick marshal’s office complete with a jail. Marshal Garfias was an influential community member which most likely helped him get elected as the first Phoenix town marshal. Marshal Garfias staff consisted of his jailer H.C. McDonald.
Learn about early law enforcement of the Arizona Ranger and their tools of their trade. These men were as rough and surly as the very criminals they chased throughout the state. In the display you will see the photo of the men at the mine strikes. Equipment is much the same, but the badges were changing to just a star.
Early Law Enforcement
Here you can view the original small townsite of Phoenix on a picturesque map and some of the early wrist irons (handcuffs). In addition you can view the early star badges of that time as well as rifles and six shooters.
1900-1920 Law Enforcement
Learn first hand about the beginnings on law enforcement in Phoenix and the basic tools of the trade that officers used walking a beat.
The photograph is from the 1920’s Officer inspection was near city hall. Notice the wide variety of weapons from old colt six shooters, revolvers and one semi-automatic Colt 911. Office Ernie Sauers is holding the gun. It’s believed he served in the First World War and brought the military issue gun home with him to later use on the job as a police officer. Semiautomatic guns were uncommon for our department and did not reappear until the mid-1990’s when the department began to transition fully to semiautomatic handguns. Their heavy wool uniforms were not practical in the hot Phoenix sun months and most likely would not have been worn year around. There guns were under the jackets on their belts which made it difficult to quickly draw your gun.
display houses weapons of the period as well as hand irons or handcuffs and a “nipper.” A nipper was an early non-lethal devise with two handles and a small chain designed to control a prisoner. The chain would be flipped around the wrist and with the two handles twisted to put pressure in nerves in the wrist to get a prisoner in compliance. You will also see the change in badge fusing including a hat badge with two crisscrossed batons. Lanterns would have been used for lighting with candles.
You will also notice two arrest books from the late 1880’s to early 1900’s. The term “book em” came from the sergeant or desk officer repeating making the same statement to write the arrested person information in the arrest log to just “book him or book em”.
The arrest log on the right is open to 1914. Notice common charges such as drunk or riding in the sidewalk. Fines were generally $1-5 dollars or similar dates in jail. With inflation accounting for today, that might be equivalent to more than $100 today. The left arrest book has listing for “Vag” or vagrancy. Many times, officers would meet the arriving passenger trains at the Phoenix depot. They would approach lone men with line or no suitcases and ask their purposes of visiting Phoenix. If they had no place to stay, job, or money they would have to get back on the train or be taken to jail. Another arrest list is “keeping a disorderly house.” With a $25 fine would have been extremely high bail. It wasn’t that Phoenix cared about your housecleaning abilities. It was a polite and less offense way to say a house of prostitution, therefore a higher fine which didn’t matter much since prostitution was a high cash business.
In the early 1900s, car dealers would try to create publicity for their new automobiles by hosting car races. In 1922 a championship race was held in Pikes Peak, Colorado. Entered as one of the contestants was Noel Bullock and his Model T, named “Old Liz.”
Since Old Liz looked the worse for wear, as it was unpainted and lacked a hood, many spectators compared Old Liz to a tin can. By the start of the race, the car had the new nickname of “Tin Lizzie.”
But to everyone’s surprise, Tin Lizzie won the race. Having beaten even the most expensive other cars available at the time, Tin Lizzie proved both the durability and speed of the Model T.
Tin Lizzie’s surprise win was reported in newspapers across the country, leading to the use of the nickname “Tin Lizzie” for all Model T cars. The car also had a couple of other nicknames—”Leaping Lena” and “flivver”—but it was the Tin Lizzie moniker that stuck. The 1919 Ford model T or “tin Lizzie” was one of only a few the department would drive. Most patrol was done by foot, bicycles, and horses, very similar to patrolling Today’s city streets throughout the US. The model T was a simple car with three doors and a inner skeleton made of wood. The wood rims pattern after earlier horse drawn wagon wheels. Gravity feed gasoline line required it to be driven backwards when going up a steep hill. The fire hydrant is from the 1880s and was discovered at the present Phoenix Police Academy at the South Mountain Park. It also with the bullet ridden mailbox were used at the shooting range.
Police Work After WWII
Many changes to police work occurred after World War II, form uniforms to weapons. The department began to become more standardized in its academy, training and policies. In 1933 the department started its first radio broadcast…., the picture show two motor officers in front of the new station at 17 south 2nd Ave. Now known as historic city hall and currently the home of the Phoenix Police museum. It was built in 1928 with the museum space and basement as the department. Across the hall was the city court, the city mayor and council and various city departments were on the other floors. The top floors were the men’s and women’s city jail. A prisoner elevator would take prisoners direct from the ground floor to the jail. City officials had a separate elevator to avoid contact with unruly prisoner.
Officer worn tan and khaki uniforms in the 1940’s later to be replaced with blue uniforms. It’s unknown why the uniform color change but some believe it was not to resemble Nazi soldiers uniforms. About this time the us seal change by presidential order to have the eagle face the talons with olive branches of peace instead of war arrows. Police badges soon followed with the eagle at the top of badges changing directions. Again, it was unknown if the change occurred so the eagle would not face the same direction of a Nazi eagle.
Also, in the case is a fully automatic Thompson sub machine. These would have been carried after WWII by just a few officers and supervisors. They would have been provided by the us government after the war since the military would no longer need the large quantities of weapons. This program of donating used military equipment to police departments is still continued today. You will also notice a handgun with Peral grips with four marks on the handle. This gun was used by officer xx who was an old cowboy and would mark his pistol after each police shooting and killing a suspect. Although acceptable then, it is not ethical to do so today. Also, in the display you will see more modern nippers. Now without a chain and more of a clamp style. Nightsticks are unchanged and Officer carry brass knuckles. Detective bullet proof vest were available but not readily used due to cost, heat and availability. Gun belts are simple with a 38, handcuff and nippers.
The next or center displays shows detectives examine evidence. Chief of detectives, JJ McGrath is in the center. In the display is our small but informative rules and regulations. See the number of arrests for major crimes. To the left is the “Eisenhower jacket”. Copied after military dress jackets it was used as formal jackets for our officers. Named Eisenhower after then General Eisenhower later to become president. The department also maintained a supply of officers to serve as civil defense police officers to fill in for those officers that went off to WWII. Rifles were used that came from Yuma territorial prison. These officers were in part of the future reserve program of the dept.
Be sworn in as a police officer during your visit
Children of all ages can try on a real Phoenix Police uniform and get sworn in as a police officer while visiting the museum. Don’t forget to get your coloring book, crayons and your own sticker badge before you leave.
Phoenix’s connection to Miranda
In the late evening hours of March 3rd, 1963 a young Phoenix woman was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and robbed while walking from a bus stop. Ten days later, on March 13th, 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested by the Phoenix Police for the assault. This set in motion a series of court hearings which resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would impact interviews between law enforcement and those suspected of crimes.
You can view the copy of the signed confession. Details here……
You will also notice a booking stool with prisoner outfits. Take a moment to try on one and get your selfie. Notice the double doors, this is where prisoners would enter after the prisoner patty wagon would back up to the doors known as “the chute”.
Police Helicopters, Cars And Motorcycles
Inside the museum you will see a 1919 Model T police car, police motorcycles, bomb robots, and even a full size helicopter. We even have a fully size police car for children of all ages to play in. See if you can guess how we got all those vehicles in our museum!
Calling All Cars
In the museum you will be able to see our first radio microphone used for one-way communication to the patrol cars as well as an early switchboard to take calls to dispatch the police.
Along the wall you will see commercial bucatini equipment. The first two were tele type machines or early email in a sense. Employees could send messages to another city by typing on a keyboard and transmitting a message to another dept to advise of possibly wanted persons from Phoenix in their cities. The next item was a real to reel machine to record incoming calls and radio traffic . Each tape had 16 channels that could record. The tapes would be removed and stored for a time before being reused. Further on you will see two switch boards from 1940’s in which calls to the police could be reached. Above them is a 1980 display console used to transmit radio calls to officers.
Patches And Badges
Check out our display of uniform patches from around the world. See if you can find your city or town in our collection. We also have an exhibit of the progression of our Police Departments patches and badges over the years.
Technology Changes over The Years
The museum has many displays of how technology was incorporated into police work over the years, from computers to tasers. Just imagine what law enforcement will be next in the future.
An exciting exhibit on the Special Assignments Unit (SWAT) is a must for all visitors to see. See why they are such a well training unit ready to take on threats to the public.
C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigations)
Our newest exhibit, Crime Scene Investigation, allow visitors to view a sample crime scene (suitable for children) to learn about the various methods for gathering evidence and investigating a crime scene. See if you can discover the clues and solve the crime.
Breaking Barriers In Law Enforcement
Several decades ago it was unheard of to have a female serving as a police officer. View some of the uniforms and equipment that these women worn in their early history and see the first female Phoenix Police Chief.
Red or Blue wire?
View some of our retired bomb robots up close and other equipment used to keep the public, as well as the Bomb Technician safe.
Television and movies often use a dramatic license to simply defuse a bomb but cutting the correct wire, but it is much more than that.
With the help of the New York City Fire Department and an endorsement from Public Safety Manager (Chief Jack Harris) the Phoenix Police Museum received a 300+ pound section of cross member I-beam from one of the towers from the World Trade Center. Museum Curator Lt. Mike Nikolin (Retired) was in NYC and met with officials there to obtain a donation for the police museum’s 9-11 memorial display.
Visit the memorial room exhibit to honor ‘Those who have passed before us’. Dedicated to the Phoenix Police Employees who have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. There is also a exhibit honoring our K-9 partners who had duty in the line-of-duty.
Experience it through their eyes
See the tools and equipment that the men and women that protect the city have used over time and how it has evolved into what we use today.
Officers carry Glock semi-automatic pistols that are 9mm, 40 or 45 caliber capacity. Officer also had the transitional handcuffs but now expandable batons. Mace was pepper spray made of cayenne peppers. Radios are 800 megahertz capable of transmitting to many local city, county, state and federal agencies. Tasers are carried by officers as non-lethal device. The dept helicopter are displayed in the photo. The Eurocopter, a medium frame helicopter, replaced the Notar lift frame helicopters due weight and lift issues in the heat of the summer. The city also purchased a helicopter seen in red in white which is flown by police pilots but used for the fire department for emergencies such as mountain rescues. You will also see our 3 wheeled meter maid bike used for writing tickets for overdue parking meters. Get on the motorcycle and reach down to the left side and switch on the toggle switches to turn on the lights.
Come and visit!
Display one of our vehicles at your event!
If you’re interested in having our vehicles on display at your event simply click on the Learn More Button below. Our vehicles are available for free, however, we do ask you to make a donation to the museums’s vehicle restoration and maintenance fund to help us acquire and maintain these classic police vehicles.
If you'd like to schedule a tour of the museum
call us today!
Please call or email us to schedule a tour for groups larger than 10 persons. A suggested donation of $25 is requested for group tours over 10 persons. We require appropriate adult supervision ratio for children and special needs individuals. Normal tour groups sizes are suggested to be no larger than 24 to 30 persons. It is best to call approximately one month in advance if you are requesting a specific time and day.
thin blue line gear
The "Thin Blue Line" stands for law enforcement's separation of order from chaos, or, as Oxford Dictionaries describes, it's a reference to police, "in the context of maintaining order during unrest." ... The thin blue line flag stands for the sacrifice law enforcement officers of this nation make each day. Show your support by purchasing and proudly displaying your Thin Blue Line gear today!
The Phoenix Police Museum can perform historical research for you on a person or topic you choose. Our researchers can comb through our historical archives and create a report for you on a specific date, a historical figure, a family member, or a specific incident or issue. Let us help you learn more about our great history.
Come on In! Free admission
(Last entrance at 2:45PM)
*Service dogs are welcome
closed for holidays
New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday
Cesar Chavez Birthday (March 31)
The day after Thanksgiving
17 South 2nd Avenue
Historic City Hall 1st Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2202
Admission is free, but we will gladly take donations!
The Phoenix Police Museum is an IRS approved non profit 501C3 organization. We are supported by the generous monthly payroll deduction of over 1,700 Police and City of Phoenix employees as well as donations from individuals and businesses.
Paid Parking is available along Jefferson Street at the meters or in the City of Phoenix parking garage located at 305 West Washington Street.
Meters - Hourly Rates
Meters cost $1.50 per hour and coin-only meters cost $1 per hour.
Most meters accept credit/debit cards and coins and others only accept coins.
Pay-by-cell is also available via the Pango Mobile Parking app for credit card enabled parking meter
Time limits generally vary by location. Time limits at metered locations can range from 15 minutes to as long as 8 hours. In most areas, the maximum duration is 2 hours. The parking time limits are posted on each meter.
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Accessible Meters
Phoenix has several on-street accessible parking spaces throughout the downtown area. Each space is clearly marked with a special sign with the international symbol of access.
Vehicles displaying a valid ADA License Plate and/or Placard receive one hour of free parking once their parking meter has expired. Vehicles displaying a valid Purple Heart Recipient license plate also receive one free additional hour. This applies to all parking meters, not just the designated ADA Accessible parking meters. The nearest ADA paid parking meter is located just East of 2nd Avenue on Jefferson on the North side of the roadway.
305 PARKING GARAGE
The City of Phoenix parking garage is managed by Ace Parking and can be contacted at 1-888-223-7275. It does have Disable spots available and has a height restriction of vehicles of 8’2″. Wider vehicles must call ahead to make an appointment for a limited number of over sized vehicles. The cost of all parking is $4.00 per hour. The Museum does not validate parking for visitors.
How to get here...
From the Northwest Valley via I-17 South I-17 to I-10 East (exit 200A) Exit at 7th Avenue (exit 144A) and turn right Travel 1 mile to Jefferson Street and turn left Move to the left lane. Turn left into City Public Parking Garage between 4th and 3rd Avenues.
From the Northeast Valley via SR51 South SR51 to I-10 West Exit at 7th Avenue (exit 144A) and turn left Travel 1 mile to Jefferson Street and turn left. Move to the left lane. Turn left into City Public Parking Garage between 4th and 3rd Avenues.
From the West Valley via I-10 East Exit at 7th Avenue (exit 144A) and turn right Travel 1 mile to Jefferson Street and turn left. Move to the left lane Turn left into City Public Parking Garage between 4th and 3rd Avenues.
From the Southeast Valley via I-10 West Exit at 7th Avenue (exit 144) and turn left. Travel 1 mile to Jefferson Street and turn left. Move to the left lane. Turn left into City Public Parking Garage between 4th and 3rd Avenues Note: The parking garage has a second entrance on 4th Avenue between Jefferson and Washington.
Note: The parking garage has a second entrance on 4th Avenue between Jefferson and Washington.
Please call or email us to schedule a tour for groups larger than 10 persons.
602.534.7278 or email@example.com
A suggested donation of $25 is requested for group tours over 10 persons. We require appropriate adult supervision ratio for children and special needs individuals. Normal tour groups sizes are suggested to be no larger than 24 to 30 persons. It is best to call approximately one month in advance if you are requesting a specific time and day.