FEATURE: Museum chronicles police force’s history

SYMBOLISM::The museum’s layout was designed to resemble the mythical Jinwu bird, representing the National Police Administration’s commitment to protect society

By Wang Kuan-jen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sun, Feb 21, 2016 - Page 3

The National Police Administration (NPA) is usually considered a secretive and closed-off government agency, but many people would be surprised to learn of the museum within its halls documenting the history of the nation’s police force.

Located within the NPA building in Taipei, the museum covers 406m2 and features more than 2,000 items and documents, including some dating back to the Japanese colonial era.

Among the documents and items are the results of a census carried out in 1906, a pennant for winning a Kendo competition in 1924 and a plaque that was hung on the police station’s wall in 1931.

When looked at from above, the museum’s layout resembles a Jinwu bird (金吾鳥), which the NPA said symbolizes the force’s commitment to “protect the society from harm,” as opposed to a dove, which symbolizes peace.

The Jinwu is a mythical bird with three legs that represents the sun.

The museum is adorned with 89 Jinwu decorations hanging from its ceilings, the NPA said, adding that it took over 29 hours to make each of them in a 3D printer.

Visitors are greeted with a bank of TV screens upon stepping into the museum’s lobby, each playing brief introductions of what they can expect from the exhibits.

The first exhibit is a wall of documents and photographs featuring events in the history of the police force beginning after the end of World War II.

Another exhibit showcases an old BMW motorcycle used by police officers. Originally intended to be sold off at an auction after being retired, it was later kept as a memento and transported to the museum.

One exhibit features the three remaining hand-held air raid sirens from the Japanese colonial era, as well as a collection of uniforms worn by police officers throughout the force’s history.

Aside from the exhibits, which can also be visited with tour guides, the museum also features special activities where visitors can experience simulated drunk driving and shooting.

The drunk-driving simulator, introduced in response to the increased occurrences of drunk driving in the past few years and seeking to raise awareness about the dangers of inebriated driving, consists of goggles that simulate driving under the influence of alcohol that would measure 0.25mg to 0.55mg on a breath test.

Visitors found it hard to drive in a straight line and many eventually crashed into something, the NPA said.

The museum also has a replica detention room where visitors can experience what it is like to be detained by police, the NPA said, adding that visitors can also have their mugshot taken in front of a wall with height measurements.

In addition, a simulated shooting area offers the chance to experience shooting at targets, with an arcade-style area where groups of visitors can “shoot” at each other, in addition to an exhibit that explains how special police teams plan their operations.

Every item and document on exhibit has a history, museum personnel said, pointing to a bomb vest, which is the same model that was worn by police officer Yang Chi-chang (楊季章) as he attempted to disarm a bomb placed at a McDonald’s in Taipei in 1992.

Yang died in the line of duty from blood loss after the bomb exploded.

The museum said the incident caused the NPA to devote more funds into research and development, leading to the development of a robotic arm that has become the standard equipment used to disarm bombs.

The museum also has recreational areas for visitors who wish to take a rest, where TV screens play anti-drug videos and booths offer the opportunity to have a photograph taken wearing a police uniform.

The museum opened in November last year after the concept was first conceived in early 2012, the museum said, adding that it took two years to assemble the documents and items around the nation and transport them to the museum.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Fire Department has invited residents to try out its earthquake simulator.

The department has three simulators that can replicate the tremors created by earthquakes from magnitude 1 to 7, with videos explaining what to do in case of an earthquake.

The department said the simulators can be used by school tours as well.