The "Behind the Badge" exhibition opened today at the Smithsonian's
The exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about this little-known agency through some well-known cases that crossed their desks. Postal inspectors play a key role in restoring mail service and returning a sense of normalcy to communities shattered by natural and man-made disasters, from floods and wildfires to airplane crashes and terrorist attacks. Historic and contemporary cases that examine the wide range of work done by inspectors are interwoven throughout the exhibit.
The exhibit features many interactive opportunities, providing visitors numerous chances to try their hand at a variety of skills that are part of a postal inspector's repertoire. These activities include spotting fraud and other mail scams, identifying crime suspects and analyzing crime scenes. Exhibit highlights include:
- Anthrax-laced letter addressed to Sen.
- Handcuffs used during arrest of Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski--The handcuffs bound one of the nation's most wanted criminals. They were snapped on
- Mail collection box from 2001 anthrax attacks--Only a month after the nation suffered the 9/11 attacks in 2001, it faced a new danger in the form of anthrax-laced letters mailed to members of
- "Help Keep the Mail Safe" is a multiuser touch table that challenges visitors to distinguish fraudulent or dangerous mail from safe pieces. These are items visitors could encounter at home or at the office. Which one should they open? And which one will empty their bank account? They decide.
- What does it take to be a postal inspector? A series of four mechanical interactive activities challenges visitors to use skills that postal inspectors use to solve and prevent crimes. Visitors can gather clues at a crime scene, match fingerprints, identify a suspect and even protect a major event venue by screening mail for explosive, biological, chemical and radiological agents.
- Personal narratives are the heart of "The Many Faces of Mail Safety" video, where postal inspectors, forensic analysts and postal police officers share their stories of life "behind the badge." Four postal inspectors who worked headline investigations, such as the 1996 apprehension of Unabomber Kaczynski and the 2012 conviction of
- The "Recover, Restore, Reconnect" video explores how the
- The end of the exhibition hosts a fallen heroes memorial video that features biographies of the law-enforcement officers of the
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