Police work was very different when Uncle Jake was a cop

My Dad had two brothers and one of them was Uncle Jake Biggs. He passed away in the 1980s (way too soon).

Uncle Jake was an easygoing guy. I never saw him angry. He was a lot of fun when we went to visit relatives in Needs Creek, Arkansas. He liked to fish and hunt and play cards. He had a great sense of humor and we all looked up to him.

Uncle Jake was in law enforcement. He was a Tulsa police officer for years, beginning in the 1950s. Back then, police salaries were low and he was always moonlighting to earn some extra cash.

Back with Peoria Avenue was the “Restless Ribbon,” Uncle Jake moonlighted as a security guard for Pennington’s Drive-in.

A lot of the teens who hung out at Pennington’s probably didn’t know Uncle Jake’s name but they knew his face. And many were glad an off-duty police officer was there to head off any trouble. Pennington’s, which looked like it belonged on Happy Days, was famous for its black-bottomed pie.

I interviewed a police dispatcher who retired about 20 years ago and his face brightened when I told him I was one of Jake Biggs’s nephews.

He asked me if I had ever heard of “Jake Biggs Park.”

I had not.

Apparently, Uncle Jake worked so much that sometimes he would sneak off to Woodward Park at 21st Street and Peoria Avenue and take a nap when he was on the graveyard shift. He got caught sleeping on the job several times and the guys in the squad room renamed Woodward Park after him. (It was unofficial, of course).

Former Tulsa Police Chief Harry Stege told me that he was partners with Uncle Jake when Stege first joined the force. He said Uncle Jake once pistol-whipped a “suspect” who had abused his wife and children in North Tulsa.

You can’t do that these days.

After he retired from the TPD, Uncle Jake became police chief in Bixby and later in Jenks when they were still small suburbs and didn’t have much crime. He got crossways with the former mayor of Jenks and almost got fired for sleeping on the job on the graveyard shift.

Uncle Jake used to cruise by our house late at night to check up on our family. That was a great comfort. When one of my brothers had some legal problems, Uncle Jake was a great friend.

He is buried in West Tulsa.

I have some friends who are policemen and it is very troubling to see the assassination of police officers around our country.

There is a lot of misinformation floating around. While there may be a handful of bad cops, most policemen I know are honest and fair.

I don’t think white policemen routinely target black people to kill them. I am sure that has happened but it just isn’t a prevalent problem.

I am not black. If I was, I would be upset if a policemen pulled me over just because I was black. And I know that has happened to many black people.

I hate getting pulled over for any reason. One of my sons was stopped not too long ago because a highway patrolman was profiling him as a drug dealer. He wasn’t but it was troubling to be stopped without cause.

My advice to my children and to anyone is, if you are stopped by the police, put your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight. Follow the instructions and don’t make any sudden moves. We have constitutional rights, but in this violent culture, it’s better to play it safe.

Here’s another tip – don’t get drunk or high on drugs in public, especially if you have a knife or a gun.

The president could do a lot to protect the police and promote racial harmony. He won’t. Obama keeps saying that blacks are oppressed by the police and that just encourages these attacks.

Criminals used to fear attacking the police but no more.

The media is fanning the flames of racial division, too. Every time an officer shoots a black person, it is shown over and over again on TV. People react even though it might have been a justifiable homicide. Others are mad when policemen are acquitted, even when the jury has some black members.

Bad cops need to be punished. The police can’t bully citizens for no reason. Anyone who threatens a police officer needs to pay a big price.

America needs to return to civility. Children need to respect authority. There needs to be racial healing, not division.

It’s too bad Uncle Jake is no longer with us. He would know what to do.