York City Police Department K-9 Unit.
This is a late 1960s photo of the York City, Pennsylvania Police Department K-9 unit taken at the York Fair grounds. The officers, accompanied by their dogs, are in their training uniforms. The officers are, from left to right: Ron Heist, Earl Frey, Fred Gibson, Steve Gibbs, Charlie Morrow, Bill Farrell, and Nevin Barley.
West York Police Department.
This 1950's era photograph shows three members of the West York Borough, Pennsylvania Police Department and their patrol vehicles, two motorcycles and a Ford patrol car. The officers and their vehicles are on the driveway of the Reliance fire house, then located in the 1400 block of West Market Street in West York Borough.
Officer Ed Myers, Red Lion Police Department.
Pictured in 1924 is Red Lion Police Officer Ed Myers astride his sidecar equipped police Harley Davidson motorcycle. The sidecar was a common accessory for police motorcycles of that era. The officer is carrying a semi-automatic pistol, carried in an open top cross draw style holster. The semi-auto pistol was unusual, as most officers of this era were carrying revolvers.

History of The Police Heritage Museum

From the very founding of Pennsylvania in the 1680's, William Penn endorsed the equal enforcement of laws, regardless of a person's origin or beliefs. Although the language has changed, many modern Pennsylvania laws are direct descendants of early English law, specifically the "Duke of York's Laws." Among these early laws are those establishing the courts, warrants, bail, sheriffs, constables and other officers.

Until 1749, York County was a part of Lancaster County, and the responsibility for enforcement of laws fell upon the Lancaster County Sheriff. Because of an undue travel hardship when attending court, residents in the western part of Lancaster County persisted in their petitions to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the establishment of a separate county. York County was formed in 1749, and with it came the first York County law enforcement officers.

As early communities grew, so did their need to maintain peace and order among the citizens. The Sheriff of the county and the high-constable in the towns didn't wear a uniform or display a badge. Early Pennsylvania law provided that the sheriff would be provided with a staff of his office, at least six feet in length and bearing the King's Coat of Arms on the top. It is doubtful these officers carried firearms, except on special occasions.

A Museum is Born

The Police Heritage Museum grew out of one officer's desire to know more about the history of the York City Police Department. The officer's large personal collection of law enforcement artifacts, and the knowledge he gained during his research, became the impetus for the museum.

Late in 1994 a core group of individuals met to discuss the incorporation of a police museum. It was obvious the museum would provide community enrichment through preservation, education, and presentation of the important role law enforcement has played in community history through the maintenance of peace and order, thus ensuring community growth and prosperity.

For over a year and a half starting late in 1994, a small display area of twenty by twenty feet was maintained on the second floor of the Fire Museum of York County. The Fire Museum well understood the difficulties encountered when making an effort to start a museum, as some twenty years earlier their museum had an equally small beginning. If not for their generosity, kindness and guidance, the dream of this museum may have remained just that!

The core group recruited others from the private and professional sectors that shared an interest in establishing a museum to showcase the history of policing and share this important part of our history with others. In the spring of 1995 incorporation documents were filed and following the receipt of the approval for incorporation, the first meeting was held with officers and the board of directors being elected. The board of directors has a strong diversity in it's members with retired and active police officers, past County Commissioner, a businessman and community leader, certified public accountant, attorney, firefighter, and 911 communications center supervisor. This diversity of directors brings unique levels of experience and perspectives to the present and future operation of the museum.

By design the museum's name was chosen so it did not denote or focus on a single police department or agency. The board of directors did not want to limit horizons, and felt even the smallest of law enforcement agencies had something to offer the museum. The board of directors set an initial goal of finding a place to house the museum, where people would "enter the past, see the present, imagine the future" of law enforcement.

For the board of directors, obtaining a suitable location to house the museum's displays was a primary concern, and contacts with city officials looked promising. Through the City of York's Director of Economic Development and in co-operation with the Redevelopment Authority, a vacant commercial storefront was secured. This was only the beginning of our project, as the building was empty for a number of years, and was in need of serious cosmetic interior renovations. The roof had leaked, an asphalt tile floor had to be removed, and walls had to be refurbished. Additionally, a partition was built, essentially cutting the building in half, with the rear used for construction of displays and storage, while the front is for the display of museum artifacts.

As with any project like this, recruiting of the volunteers becomes the most difficult part of the job. The members of PA Jeeps completed removal of the asphalt tile floor. We then turned to the York County Probation department, as probationers are many times required to complete a certain amount of hours of community service as part of their probation. The people from probation spent two evenings each week for 3 weeks removing thousands of staples that remained after the flooring and sub flooring was removed. Remaining renovations were completed by museum staff along with generous contributions of time, money, and materials from many other individuals and businesses within the community.

Artifacts over a century old have been secured from local and out of state law enforcement agencies. Agencies within York County have already donated pieces of their history. Many artifacts have, and continue to be, secured monthly through private gifts, and private funds. Although artifacts collected are too numerous to list, these include documents, publications, police and prison equipment, and individual officer's equipment, along with badges and patches. A few artifacts date to the 1700's; many more are from the 1880's, and early 1900's to present.

Since officially opening our doors to visitors in 1998, we have hosted thousands of visitors, and have shown ever increasing attendance and tours. The museum will remain a work in progress, with new and expanded displays, continuing search for new and unique artifacts, and an increased involvement with schools, scouts and civic groups through tours.

Closing 54 West Market Street

When the Police Heritage Museum acquired the property at 54 West Market Street, our goal was to replace a vacant downtown storefront with a history museum that would educate the public about the history of law enforcement, crime and punishment. We originally leased the building, and made extensive renovations to the interior of the building in order to open the doors. After a few years, the Board of Directors authorized the purchase of the building, and after purchasing the building replaced the aging roof system to provide better protection to the artifacts contained within it. The Police Heritage Museum was able to revitalize one vacant downtown building.

Immediately to the east of our building, sat the former Woolworth's store, which for years had been vacant and the subject of many potential redevelopment plans, none of which ever came to fruition. Immediately to the west of our building, was a former jewelry store which went out of business in January of 2007. Weinbrom Jewelers were great neighbors, and their closing was a loss to the neighborhood.

Several years later, we were made aware that developers were once again looking at the Woolworth's building, as well as the Weinbrom building, as potential redevelopment projects. The Board of Directors were approached about the availability of our building should a developer wish to purchase it for a larger redevelopment project. The Board of Directors have listened to several proposals, some of which were unrealistic. And then, we were approached by representatives from the Royal Square Development group, who were looking to renovate all three buildings on West Market Street. They were very open with what they were looking to do, and provided us with several options.

The Police Heritage Museum believes in downtown York, which is why we located there and invested in the building at 54 West Market Street. We wanted to be a part in downtown's revitalization, and we did our part by occupying one vacant storefront. We did that on a modest budget with an all volunteer staff. We have no paid employees. Every cent we raise goes to the museum's mission.

So, the Board of Directors decided to once again be a part of the revitalization of downtown York, and opted to sell the building at 54 West Market Street to the group that would redevelop the buildings on West Market Street. We remained in the building as tenants through the end of the 2015, at which time we moved out so construction work could begin. So 2015 was the end of the Police Heritage Museum at 54 West Market Street.

A Museum Without A Home

The museum's collection and fixtures had all been moved to 237 West Market Street, where they were protected by fire and burglar alarm systems, and were in an environmentally controlled area. We planned to ready the space to be used as a museum. The actual footprint was smaller than our previous home, so adjustments would need to be made. The number of items on display would need to be reduced, so more items would remain in storage.

We later found that the facility at 237 West Market Street was unable to meet our needs as a museum site. We then moved the entire collection to an off-site storage facility, while we continued to work on securing a home for the Police Heritage Museum.

In 2019, we secured the first floor of 20 West King Street to use as the offices of the Police Heritage Museum. We again have a home, and the foorprint here is even smaller than the space at 237 West Market Street. We continue to work on the space to ready it for use as our new home.

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The Police Heritage Museum, Inc.

Address: P.O. Box 1582
  York, PA 17405
Phone: (717) 845-COPS
E-mail: Contact Form

About Us

The Police Heritage Museum, Inc. is entirely run by volunteers - there is no paid staff working for the museum.

We ask for your patience when contacting the Police Heritage Museum, as there is no full-time staff to immediately respond to any inquiries.