Porter County Sheriff's Department

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Police Artifacts


Antique police artifacts find safe haven in sheriff's collection


October 5, 2009 By Jane Hub Post-Tribune staff writer

David Lain doesn't leave his personal valuables at home. The Porter County Sheriff keeps hundreds of pieces of police memorabilia at his office.  "One good reason why I keep it here is so I don't have to worry about burglary," he said. "And I see it more because I'm here more than at home."  His colleagues know better than to tinker with his treasured stockpile.  "These are my babies," Lain said. "They don't mess with my toys."  The sheriff has been collecting law enforcement objects and artifacts as a hobby for 20 years.  The collection includes early 19th-century "British Isle stuff," gold-carat badges and a patented daystick that had steel teeth.  Like a beaming parent, Lain is proud to talk about each item when anyone inquires. "Every piece I have has a story behind it," he said. "Sometimes, I don't know what the story is."  Lain loaned a Winchester rifle to the Porter County Museum, which has the gun on display.  In 1938, the Easton brothers fatally shot Indiana State Trooper Raymond Dixon with the Winchester, leading to a shootout with police that killed one brother.   Lain admits he's paid "handsomely" for some of his collectibles, but declines to share figures.  The items come from ads, antique shops, flea markets, collector trade shows and donations from colleagues and friends.  Kevin Pazour, director of the Porter County Museum, said Lain has been generous with his personal collection.  "He could easily keep his collection in his house and never share the items," Pazour said. "But he shares it with the public and understands the importance of perpetuating history with people.  Lain isn't just an avid collector, he's also a history buff.  One of the oldest pieces he owns is a "tip staff" from the early 1830s in England. Back then, during the reign of King William IV, the constable carried the staff, which has a compartment for a warrant.  The staff is marked with the king's emblem to signify the authority of the Crown.  Back before firearms were invented, the sword was law enforcement's weapon. And one of those swords hangs on Lain's office wall near the display of blackjacks and mid 19th-century and early 20th-century bludgeons and clubs.  He has a rattler, or as he calls it, the "19th-century Motorola," which was used by an officer to alert fellow officers for assistance. The apparatus makes a rattling noise when it's swung in circles.  "I'm fascinated with how tools of the trade have changed over a period of time," he said.  The collection shows the evolution of police equipment.  The wooden baton stick became a steel baton.   Lain has one of only four 1857 patented batons with steel teeth, a self-defense mechanism that protrudes when someone tries to pry it away. Eventually, collapsible batons came around so police can wear them on their belts.  Memorabilia takes police back in time "Every piece I have has a story behind it. Sometimes, I don't know what the story is.  "One thing that won't change is that law enforcement will always be on the lookout for the latest technologically advanced tools. Today, one of those tools is the Taser X3. "When (the stun guns) came out in the '80s, they looked more like a dust-buster vacuum cleaner," Lain said.


See more of Sheriff Lain's collection here.


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