Fear not: I did it deliberately, and legally. The New Jersey State Police Museum is nestled just off Route 29 in West Trenton, actually slightly south of Trenton, to be more accurate. Long ago I heard that the museum held the electric chair used to execute convicted Lindbergh Baby kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann as well as other notable law-enforcement memorabilia, so I figured it was worth a visit.
The first thing you encounter when you get there is the guard post on the driveway. You're approaching the State Police headquarters, so they want a careful inventory of visitors. I had to show identification to the guard trooper and tell him where I was going. I'd never been in the position to hand over my drivers license to a trooper, but I guess if you have to, this is the most benign reason.
|It's more than a tramp stamp for your chickens: |
tattooing is a way to prevent poultry poaching.
|Early Turnpike memorabilia offers an interesting|
view into mid-century New Jersey challenges.
Law enforcement enthusiasts will get a lot out of the museum, given its exhaustive review of details including police vehicles, badges, uniforms, weapons and the like. For someone like me who's not as much into the accouterments, well, I was a bit more interested in the old Turnpike brochures, the mocked-up forensics lab and a really cool bulletproof vest designed especially for police dogs.
Oh, and the electric chair? A two-dimensional, full-sized photo was there in its place, since the real thing had been loaned out to another museum. However, the Baby Lindbergh kidnap story has a rightfully-sizable spot near the front of the museum. It was this investigation that put the State Police on the map and made them world-famous in the early 1930s. Authentic evidence including some of the ransom notes and a portion of the ladder the kidnapper used are on display, along with newspaper articles and other memorabilia.