The story of the San Diego Police Museum reads like a "missing persons" report. With a grand opening scheduled in two weeks, organizers are looking back at what they consider a "long but worthwhile struggle" to get the museum a permanent.
One of the Police Historical Association founders, Detective Gary Mitrovich, is ready to celebrate the museum February 27 at its new location near College Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard in East San Diego.
The building used to be a public library, but recently opened up as a police storefront/museum.
"It makes me feel really good because honestly, I never thought we'd get here,” Mitrovich said.
The museum tells the history of the police department, which was founded in 1889. There are all sorts of old weapons and police artifacts on display. From a police shooting championship trophy to handwritten crime logs from 1886. The police radio dispatch system looks ancient now, but was once state of the art.
A lot of that history can be traced to the Old Police Headquarters downtown. The Old Headquarters, near Seaport Village, is now getting remodeled and ready for commercial tenants. The building compound was saved from being leveled by the Police Historical Association.
"There are a lot of good things and positive history about the police department in town, but there are some embarrassing things. There are some things that were not so popular," said Mitrovich.
And those things are on display too at the new museum. The many years it took to recruit and promote women officers and minority officers, for example.
Even with the new home and 4000 square feet, the exhibits really only represent about three quarters of the museum's collection. For organizers, the ultimate dream would be a Balboa Park location near the other museums.
"Ideally, we're still looking to the future because we have more things we'd like to show,” said Mitrovich. ”We're going to need a bigger place, a place where we can put our cars and some of the artifacts we have stored. But I think we're going to be here for awhile."
The museum is free to the public and there will be an "official" open house for the new College Avenue Police Museum on Friday, February 27th.