Corporate powerhouses like Motorola, DuPont, Verizon, and Panasonic have contributed millions of dollars to the $80 million National Law Enforcement Museum to open in Washington, D.C., in 2013, , reports USA Today. Museum officials have bestowed glowing honorary titles on the companies and the right to affix their names on exhibits throughout the building. Some of the companies also are recipients of millions of dollars in contracts from law enforcement agencies. The companies sell cops everything from guns and body armor to cellphones and computer software.
Since authorized by Congress in 2000, the museum has become the centerpiece of what the newspaper calls “a lucrative relationship in which public safety companies have aligned themselves with virtually every aspect of law enforcement.” They are ubiquitous sponsors of national and local policing conferences that draw chiefs and other key purchasing officers. They sponsor events that raise money for scholarship funds. They shower money on families of officers killed while working for the agencies whose business the companies seek. There is nothing illegal about the contributions, nor is there any indication that police agencies have purchased inferior equipment based on these financial relationships. Still, “if I’m a company that sells millions of dollars in law enforcement equipment, the possibility of using charitable donations to support the interest of business is something that people should think about,” says University of Pittsburgh law Prof. David Harris.