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President signs Coin Act to fund National Law Enforcement Museum

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: January 17, 2020

Renderings Courtesy of National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor with excerpts from news media

The National Law Enforcement Museum needed another source of funding to pay off the $103 million in bonds borrowed to build it. That funding source was approved when President Trump signed the National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act into law in late December 2019.

The new law directs the Department of Treasury to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins that are emblematic of the National Law Enforcement Museum and the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers throughout the history of the United States. The museum is located at 444 E. Street in Washington DC’s Judiciary Square.

Proceeds from the sale of the commemorative coins will help endow programs and exhibits at the museum. The legislation was supported by several national law enforcement organizations, including NAPO.

“This bill comes with no cost to the taxpayer – all funding will come from the sale of the coins to private citizens,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, sponsor of H.R. 1865, wrote in a co-sponsor request to Congress. “No funds will be distributed to NLEOMF until after the U.S. Treasury has recouped all of its costs for designing and minting the coins.”

Since the Washington D.C. museum opened in October 2018, funding projections for ticket sales have not met projections and repayment of the bonds was falling behind.

According to a March 2019 Bloomberg Businessweek article, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported a $6.1 million net loss in 2018, leading it to raise museum ticket prices and cut 12 percent of staff. The fund could keep operating over the next year, it reported in a February 2019 regulatory filing. However, investors were informed by the organization in January 2019 that it probably wouldn’t make interest payments on debt due in 2020, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Museum spokeswoman Robyn Small said in a March 2019 Washington Business Journal article the museum has met its obligation on outstanding A and B bonds, but did short pay a C bond.

The three-story, largely underground 57,000-square-foot facility dates back to President Bill Clinton’s administration, which approved the museum site in 2000. The museum landed several corporate sponsors and in 2016 construction began. One of the primary goals of the interactive, high-tech museum is to enrich the relationship between law enforcement and the community through educational journeys, immersive exhibitions, and insightful programs.

Museum attendance was projected at 420,000 paying visitors in the first year, but in its first three months, the museum had only brought in about 15,000 people at $21.95 per adult, according to the Bloomberg report. The projected figure was dropped to 300,000 in January 2019.

“We attribute the underpayment to an over estimation of attendance during our first quarter,” Small said in an email to the Washington Business Journal. “Since that time, we have re-evaluated our attendance projections and made some internal organizational changes.”

In 2019, the Museum offered special programs to draw in larger crowds. The Commemorative Coin Act is expected to fill the funding gap that remains.

“Proceeds from the sale of the commemorative coin will provide a much-needed funding stream to the non-profit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund for educational outreach programs and the exhibits at the National Law Enforcement Museum,” Rep. Pascrell said during House consideration of the legislation.

Minting of the coins is slated to begin in January 2021 and end in December 2021. Details on how to purchase the coins will be publicized at the beginning of 2021.

For more information about the museum or to make a donation, visit https://lawenforcementmuseum.org/, call (202) 737-3400 or email [email protected]

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