Porter County Sheriff's Department

What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department


Sheriff's Department Lobby Displays History

Jail cell from 1800s, Dillinger's Tommy gun featured
This story ran on nwitimes.com on Thursday, March 9, 2006 1:06 AM CST

VALPARAISO | The Porter County Sheriff's Department lobby is being transformed into a law enforcement museum of sorts, complete with a jail cell from the 1800s and such memorabilia as the county-owned Thompson submachine gun which was used by notorious bank robber John Dillinger.
The project has been in the works since last year, when the department acquired a 7- by 12-foot solid metal cell dating back to the 1800s. The jail cell had been an eating area inside Court Restaurant in downtown Valparaiso, but didn't fit the decor of the new restaurant that took over the building last year.

The restaurant owner donated it to police, who cut it into pieces and stored it until they figured out the best spot to display it.
Jail inmates reassembled the jail cell a few days ago, and now Sheriff's Department officials plan to fill it with memorabilia like the Tommy gun. The gun originally belonged to Porter County, but was lent to Lake County authorities and was stolen when Dillinger broke out of Lake County Jail.
Researcher Gordon Herigstad discovered the gun in FBI storage and helped Porter County get it back five years ago. The gun has remained locked away because of its value, but can now be safely displayed inside the old jail cell, Chief Deputy David Lain said.
Lain, a collector of police memorabilia, plans to add some of his items to the display, like a mannequin wearing an old police uniform and some old-fashioned police restraints. He expects the display to be popular with visitors and curious residents.
"It's an opportunity to remember the past and tie it to the present and future," Lain said.
Lain expects the display to be complete within about a week.
Lain said visitors also might be interested in going next door to the jail lobby, where there is a display of significant flags, including a 9-11 commemorative flag.

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