When the Bricktown Police Substation opened in 2007, the blank walls marked where designers once envisioned a tribute to the police department's colorful history.
Cost overruns, however, delayed the project.
Over the next few years, Maj. Ed Hill and retired police detective and author Ron Owens worked with retirees to make sure the exhibit became a reality. They created a narrative on the force's history and assembled photos and items for display.
Assisted by the graphic artists and design team at Midwest Trophy, which donated time and effort to the cause, the exhibit is now open and recently celebrated a quiet opening with retirees.
To help the project proceed, the company created the cases and display panels.
The substation is an ideal setting for the exhibit. The worn-out former Rock Island freight depot at 219 E Main was renovated and expanded as part of a design created by The Small Group. While the exterior retained the appearance of train depot, the interior was designed to resemble a 1930s-era police station.
The architectural detail includes old-style police light globes at the entrance, vintage engraved tin ceiling tiles, a wood floor, and a bench that dates to when the city courtroom was in the Main Street Arcade Building at 629 W Main.
The new exhibits, which date to the city's earliest days as a fairly lawless town that sprouted overnight to 10,000 people, are enough to merit the station status as one of Bricktown's newest attractions for locals and tourists alike.
The exhibits include early-day booking photos, guns, badges, the city's first bomb removal unit, vintage police uniforms, and displays on the visits of gangsters including Bonnie and Clyde and Machine Gun Kelly.
Taken in its entirety, the exhibit shows how crime is just the seedy, dark side of business, and how often the line was blurred between legitimate and criminal enterprises. It's no wonder the city's first police force (whose picture is displayed at the exhibit) was led by Chief Charles Colcord — himself a major player in the early-day development of Oklahoma City.
The exhibit is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Special after-hours tours can be arranged by calling the station at 297-1180.