Their uniforms often define them as members of the “Thin Blue Line.”
The colloquial term describes the police men and women, and their predecessor constables and local marshals, who for three centuries of Gloucester County history have enforced the laws of the land, often at the risk of their own lives.
Indeed, police officers have died in the line of duty in this county, one of the earliest killed by a drunk driver in Westville in 1936 and one of the most recent the victim of a shotgun blast during a SWAT unit entry into a Woodbury house in 1999.
Now there will be a place where such sacrifices are honored and the apparel and the tools of police careers can be displayed. Welcome to the Gloucester County Law Enforcement Educational Resource Center (GLEERC). More succinctly, this is Gloucester County’s police museum. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, May 18.
Through the generosity of Rowan College at Gloucester County, the museum is housed in a room of the RC/GC library on the college campus, 1400 Tanyard Road in Deptford Township.
“This museum is about the men and women who have served as law enforcement officers,” said Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton. “We want to educate the next generation about their sacrifices and the difference they made in their communities.
Dalton assembled a committee of current and former law enforcement officials who have worked for some two years to raise funds, furnish the museum and collect items it will proudly display. Hundreds of historic photographs, uniforms of yesteryear, exhibits about K-9 officers and multi-generational police families, equipment from time gone by, all will have a place in the GLEERC.
There will also be changing exhibits profiling each local police department, video interviews with distinguished law enforcement officials and a “Wall of Honor” dedicated to the eight officers who lost their lives in police work in Gloucester County.
“This educational and historic endeavor could not have been accomplished without a collective effort by the county’s Law Enforcement Agencies,” said James Hogan, Gloucester County Clerk and former chief of the Franklin Township Police Department. “Their officers, both active and retired, along with a number of committed citizens, were equally important in launching the museum.”
Hogan has served as a member of the museum organizing committee.
The GLEERC is a registered non-profit organization. Donations can be sent to GLEERC, P.O. Box 623, Woodbury NJ 08096. The museum has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GCPoliceMuseum.