SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – After more than 20 years in Old Town, the San Diego Sheriff’s Museum and Educational Center has closed its doors for good.
"It had history going back to the first sheriff,” said Timothy Tilley, president of the San Diego Honorary Deputy Sheriffs Association (HDSA). "We've been going on for years just with no income and just putting the money into something that's just sitting here. We just ran out of money."
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department told ABC 10News the museum — which opened in November, 2001 — is now closed, but sheriff's officials didn't explain why that's the case.
The president of the HDSA, which Tilley said maintains and owns the museum's building, stated there were some factors that came into play.
"COVID really hit us because we couldn't be open, couldn't bring the public, couldn't have employees. That was a struggle,” Tilley said.
Tilley said that’s not all that led to the museum closing.
"The anti-police sentiment that came along really started to swing the pendulum to people not supporting law enforcement and offering money for charities. It was really difficult. And even big companies that used to support us were afraid of the backlash,” Tilley said.
While the museum is closing, the artifacts inside will be heading back to the sheriff divisions that donated them.
"Even though it's not in one central location, the museum will live on in the different substations, the jails, at Ridgehaven, and we're not going to lose any of it," Tilley said.
But there's still some hope despite this chapter in history coming to an end.
"There's so much money out there. We just haven't been able to find it. And if someone can find it, buy it, and put all of the stuff back together, that's great. We're not set up to purchase and to run a museum because we just don't have the infrastructure,” Tilley said.