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03-21-09, 08:39 AM #1
LAPD officers hold memorial for deceased shoe shiner
David Briggs could always be counted on to help Los Angeles cops start their day on the right foot.
For 21 years, Briggs was the man at the downtown police headquarters who put the spit-polish gleam on the shoes and boots of officers reporting for duty at Parker Center, from the greenest recruit to the chief.
His tiny shoeshine stand was in an alcove off the headquarters' main hallway.
He wasn't a police officer, or even a civilian employee of the department. But the 56-year-old Briggs rarely missed a day of work.
"Dave would come in at 3 or 4 in the morning on days he knew we were having divisional inspections to make sure everyone was ready. He took pride in making sure we looked good," Sgt. Michael Lockett said.
So Lockett and others were surprised when the man they all called "Dr. Dave, the Minister of Shine" failed to show up at his hallway post a few weeks ago. When the two-seat stand stood empty for more than a week, police went looking for him.
Former Police Lt. Fred Booker -- now a special assistant to Chief William J. Bratton -- traveled to Briggs' home near 74th Street and Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles. He knew immediately something was wrong.
"The mail had piled up and the door to his apartment had been pried open," and Booker found a note inside advising where Briggs' belongings had been taken and could be claimed. A workman at the apartment complex explained that the shoeshine man had been found dead Feb. 24.
Booker learned that Briggs' body remained unclaimed at the county morgue. Investigators there told him that the shoeshine man died of natural causes, although an autopsy had not yet been done.
Those at Parker Center knew Briggs had a son -- the Minister of Shine spoke often and lovingly of him to customers while their shoes were being worked on.
So Booker set out to track down David Briggs Jr. He found him in Charleston, S.C., where he works as a struggling musician.
The 23-year-old apologized that he did not have the means to travel to Los Angeles to give his father a proper burial. He begged Booker to make sure that he was laid to rest with dignity.
Back at Parker Center, Booker spread word of the shoeshine man's death. It turned out that most of the cops considered the man who had so cheerfully labored at their feet a friend.
"Everybody liked him. The chief would send eight pairs of shoes at a time for him to shine," said Lockett, who works in the headquarters' community relations office.
Bratton was first to chip in to a $652 collection to pay young Briggs' way to Los Angeles for a memorial service officers will conduct for their shoeshine man. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the Police Academy's Rock Garden, 1880 N. Academy Drive.
The chief will speak at the service and present Briggs Jr. with a flag on behalf of the department.
On Friday, Bratton stopped on his way from City Hall to Parker Center to talk about the irony of the shoeshine man's death.
"Just as we're getting ready to close this place down and move to the new place, he's gone," Bratton said, gesturing toward the headquarters building nearing completion a block away.
"He was a character. He was really part of this place. He was very attentive to the idea we're moving. He wanted to make sure he was there. We didn't realize until his death that this department was his family," Bratton said.
Police had assured the shoeshine man that he would move with them to the new building.
Back in the old headquarters, a wreath, a vase of flowers and a large photo of Briggs stood Friday in front of the shoeshine stand. The two seats were dusty. A smaller picture of a smiling Briggs posing next to Bratton was attached to an easel holding the wreath.
"He worked his tail off. You'd always see shoes and boots and Sam Browne belts stacked here for him to work on," said Det. Robert McCarthy.
Capt. Jeffrey Greer, commander of the Metro Division, recalled how Briggs could talk knowledgeably about any current event or sport. His $6 shine ($7 for boots) was good for shoes scuffed in a foot pursuit or nicked climbing out of a squad car, Greer said.
Briggs always had copies of the morning paper for cops to peruse while they sat and had their boots spit-shined, said Eric Rose, a reserve officer who first met the shoeshine man in 1989.
"You never got to read the whole article. He'd look to see what you were reading and then start talking about it. He was very engaged," Rose said.
But when it came to discretion, the shoeshine man shone.
"To this day I don't know what his opinion of the Rodney King case was," Rose said.
By Bob Pool
March 21, 2009
His office was an alcove, but he was big at LAPD - Los Angeles Times
03-21-09, 09:29 AM #2
There's something really cool about that story.
RIP Shine Doc.
03-21-09, 09:31 AM #3
That's such a kind act by the officers. May Mr. Briggs rest in peace.
03-21-09, 09:38 AM #4
That brought tears to my eyes. May Mr Briggs RIP and how admirable for Booker and the department to do thatArm the sheep!
03-21-09, 10:04 AM #5
RIP Mr. David.Swamp Mafia
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, never really care for anything else.
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03-21-09, 11:15 AM #6
Look around you sometime. There are a lot of good people, unnoticed by most, living quiet simple lives and doing jobs that some might think of as menial. Sometimes these people touch a lot of lives and no one realizes it until they are gone.
RIP Mr Briggs.*************************"It wouldn't take much for me to up and run...to another life somewhere in the sun."*************************"There's something inherently wrong with having to put on a bullet-proof vest and a gun to go to work."-(An old friend)
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03-21-09, 11:46 AM #7
Rest in peace, Mr. Briggs.SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM-Ex-Sheriff Martin Howe to Will Kane in "High Noon"
"It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
Far from being a handicap to command, compassion is the measure of it. For unless one values the lives of his soldiers and is tormented by their ordeals , he is unfit to command.
-General Omar Bradley, United States Army
03-21-09, 04:16 PM #8
RIP"An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper
Some people are meant to be the police......Some people are meant to call the police!!!
"Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it."
" I believe that forgiving them (Terrorist) is God's function. OUR job is to arrange the meeting."
General Norman Schwartzkopf
Not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslim.
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03-21-09, 05:01 PM #9
RIP'Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a
delusional, illogical liberal minority, and rabidly
promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which
holds forth the proposition that it is entirely
possible to pick up a turd by the clean end!'
“A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.” Sigmund Freud
03-21-09, 05:58 PM #10
RIP for an Honorary BrotherRemember: if their lips are moving ... they're lying
03-21-09, 06:47 PM #11
03-21-09, 08:19 PM #12
03-21-09, 08:39 PM #13
I agree with others. There are too many people like him in the world that get overlooked. I'm glad LAPD is honoring him. May he rest in peace.When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)
"A burning desire for social justice is never a substitute for knowing what you're talking about". -Thomas Sowell-
03-22-09, 02:07 AM #14
RIPNever be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way" ~Martin Luther King, Jr
03-22-09, 02:18 AM #15
My condolences, and a Great One for the LAPD for honoring him. He deserved it.
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
03-22-09, 03:26 AM #16"The best tank terrain is that without anti-tank weapons"
Russian military doctrine
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us...they can't get away this time"
- Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC
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03-22-09, 06:24 AM #17
03-22-09, 09:41 AM #18
03-22-09, 06:10 PM #19
Serving and being served are two sides of the same coin. I think many folks could learn much for Mr. Briggs' story. RIP."If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton
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