A Brief History
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In the aftermath, Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed officer J.D. Tippet, a 39-year-old, 11-year veteran of the police department.
Oswald was actually initially arrested for the murder of Tippet, not for the assassination of Kennedy, but law enforcement quickly determined that Oswald was the main suspect in the Kennedy shooting as well.
J.D. Tippet was making a lousy $490 a month as a Dallas police officer at the time of his murder, equaling about $3.00 an hour. That was pretty bad pay even in those days. To supplement his income, he had been working a couple of part-time jobs.
Tippit was a World War II combat veteran (U.S. Army, 17th Airborne Division) and had earned a Bronze Star. At the time of his death, he was married and had 3 kids. This sad and unfortunate story of Officer Tippet brings us to what I learned as a police officer.
Actually almost everything I learned to say on the job came from growing up with my father. All a cop needs to say is, “Because I said so,” “I’ll give you something to cry about,” and “Go ask your mother.” Obviously, sometimes the word ‘mother’ can be substituted with “councilman,” or “mayor.” Of course, for a change of pace, the astute officer can throw in a “Tell it to the judge.” See how easy police communication is?
What I learned not to say included phrases such as, “Do you do that at home?” because the answer is invariably yes, that is exactly what they do at home. I learned never to say “Do I look stupid?” (Apparently I do.) The wise policeman never, ever asks the question (while pointing to his own face) “Is this the face of an idiot?” Misunderstandings can develop from that one. (Trust me.) Sgt. Joe Friday of the popular U.S. television series Dragnet was on the right track with “Just the facts, ma’am.”
Rest in peace, Officer Tippit, and please know that not all of us have forgotten you, your dedication, your service and your sacrifice.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever wanted to be a police officer? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Myers, Dale K. With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J. D. Tippit. Open Road Media, 2013.