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New museum traces 110-plus years of Glendale police history

Residents didn’t have to break the law to get up close and personal with the Glendale Police Department on Saturday, when the agency welcomed guests to its annual open house.

The event featured demonstrations from the K9 unit, public safety talks and the chance to process a mock crime scene. Community members also got the chance to go on a tour of the department’s new Glendale Police Museum for the first time during the open house.

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The grand opening for the museum was years in the making and the department went with something more workplace appropriate for the ribbon-cutting last Thursday: yellow crime scene tape.

Located in the department’s lobby, the museum tracks the century-plus history of the agency.

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Letters of congratulations were presented during the grand opening from state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, along with letters from county Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Rep. Adam Schiff.

The museum was originally intended to be part of the department’s headquarters when it relocated to its current location a little over 14 years ago but went to the wayside for budgetary reasons. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the concept was seriously reconsidered, thanks to the efforts of Sgt. Teal Metts, a patrol supervisor and the department’s unofficial historian.

Dignitaries cut the police tape to officially open the Glendale Police Museum Wednesday in the lobby of the city's police department headquarters.
Dignitaries cut the police tape to officially open the Glendale Police Museum Wednesday in the lobby of the city's police department headquarters. (Miguel Vasconcellos)

Metts initially envisioned the museum as an 11-foot by 17-foot room with just a small collection of items when he pitched the idea to then-Police Chief Robert Castro. Instead of the smaller room, Castro offered the department’s larger lobby.

“It was beyond everything that I originally envisioned,” Metts said.

Funding for the museum was secured through community donations. Spearheaded by the Glendale Police Foundation, about $300,000 was raised.

Construction began in late May and, according to Metts, wasn’t fully completed until the morning of the unveiling. He said he hadn’t even seen the museum in its entirety until he got the display cases ready for the event.

“It really wasn’t until [that] morning when we tore the paper down the display cases that you could stand back and fully grasp what this was,” he said. “It just took me a few seconds to finally take it all in.”

Some of the items on display include the different uniforms and badges worn by officers over the years, a vintage police motorcycle along with its contemporary counterpart and special passes used by officers during Michael Jackson’s 2009 funeral at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. The museum also has a replica jail cell housing some of the more valuable items including firearms and evidence from closed cases.

Glendale Chief of Police Carl Povilaitis speaks to attendees of Wednesday's grand opening of the department's police museum located in the lobby of headquarters.
Glendale Chief of Police Carl Povilaitis speaks to attendees of Wednesday's grand opening of the department's police museum located in the lobby of headquarters. (Miguel Vasconcellos)

During the grand opening event, Glendale Police Chief Carl Povilaitis commended Metts for the work he put into the museum and said it was “absolutely incredible.”

Povilaitis said the funding the museum received was indicative of the support the department has in the community.

He said the museum will act as an opportunity for people to learn, not just about the department, but also the evolution of police work in Glendale.

“To be able to put uniforms on display from 1915 to the present, all the different badges and patches that we used, to actually have some memorabilia…and show the progression of the police department, it’s really cool,” Povilaitis said.

FYI: Regular hours for the Glendale Police Museum are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Glendale Police Department is located at 131 N. Isabel St.

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