Best Police Encounter - 2012
Los Angeles Police Museum
We often think it preferable to keep a polite distance from those who protect and serve, but this former police station in Highland Park is worth a trek. A nonprofit that's much beloved by Black Dahlia author James Ellroy, the Los Angeles Police Museum opened in 2001 with lots of noir style inside: The first name printed on every page of the sign-in book is Dragnet star Jack Webb's. A popular place for movie shoots, it still has its old jail cells and features displays of LAPD uniforms, badges and guns, as well as exhibits on Patty Hearst and the SLA and the infamous North Hollywood bank shoot-out in 1997. There are also mug-shot cameras, written confessions, blue call boxes and a mind-boggling selection of handcuffs (including "nippers' and "come-alongs"). A soon-to-open extension will house a collection of refurbished LAPD black-and-whites, patrol wagons, bomb-squad vehicles and a helicopter. Make sure you get the audio tour — it features Ellroy and commentary from former and current officers. 6045 York Blvd., Highland Park. (323) 344-9445, laphs.org.