A look inside the Phoenix Police Museum

Phoenix Police Museum, is tucked away at the west end of the old court building on west Jefferson in Downtown Phoenix. As the Phoenix Police Department has been around since 1881, there's more history there than one might think.

There are also plenty of memories, some are more difficult than others.

"We come to work knowing that can happen to us anytime, so we hold it very dear in our hearts," said museum curator Mike Nikolin.  

December 28, 1970 was a painful day for the Bluhm family. On that day, Phoenix Police officer Albert Bluhm, 40, was shot and killed, after stopping a stolen pickup truck.

At the time of his death, Bluhm had a 16-year-old son named Don. Don, who is now married with two grown children, still remembers the day his father was killed.

"I was at a basketball game at my school and they came and got me, and I turned down the street and it was lined with cars," said Don. "Three days after Christmas. That was a tough time for this."

Don's kids can only remember their grandfather by the newspaper clippings and photographs their great-grandmother saved, along with reports on how the two gunmen were captured days later, in Utah.

"Highway patrolman pulled them over, a patrolman pulled them over, pointed a gun at him. the car started driving and bailed out," said Don.

They can read other reports as well, kept by the Phoenix Police Museum.

Nikolin started the museum in 1994. Photos of all 38 fallen Phoenix Police officers are displayed in a special memorial room at the museum.

"To hold up those officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice," said Nikolin, who was on the force the day Al Bluhm was killed.

"It took the police department down to its knees," recounted Nikolin. "It was the hardest thing ever."

Recently, Nikolin showed the Bluhm family a newly-discovered link to the killing: the rifle that was used to kill Don's father. Nikolin told Don the story of the weapon.

"This gun was placed in evidence when both suspects were taken into custody," said Nikolin. "I retrieved the weapon from them. It needed to be in the police museum. It's not on open display, but it's part of our history."

There's a lot of history at the Phoenix Police Museum, including the first jail, the Police Department's first helicopter, and a 1960's vintage patrol car the kids can play in.

"It's very important we know about our history. That's where we come from. The integrity of the Police department, what we represent, how we support the community." said Nikolin.

After being shot and killed, Officer Bluhm's brothers in blue in Phoenix did the same thing they would do today.

They took care of his family.

"They cut the grass for my grandmother. Got the swamp cooler running, and the winter time, put the heat on. Took her grocery shopping," said Don.

Don said he still brings his family to different events, as well as to the museum. It helps him stay connected to his father, as well as helping him heal.

"We got to the gravesite, the memorial," said Don. "Come down here, I can feel his hand on my back."

A powerful thing after more than 47 years, the kind of story those who work at the Phoenix Police Museum are used to hearing, from families of the fallen.

"Very appreciative that we have not forgotten who they and what they've suffered," said Nikolin. "It's a constant reminder to know that Phoenix Police still gives them a priority, and their life is important."

Another officer memorialized at the museum is officer Dale Stone, who was killed by a drunk driver while responding to the Bluhm murder.

The museum is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Phoenix Police Museum

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