A string of Longview police vehicles sounded their sirens Saturday afternoon on a quiet residential street in West Longview. But there was no emergency — only a celebration of a local law enforcement trailblazer.
The 80th drive-by birthday party for Beulah “Bebe” Jones was a surprise that her granddaughter, Jade McClain of Longview, said she had planned for about a week.
Jones was the first female certified Longview police officer as well as the department’s first female detective.
In keeping with social distancing restrictions, party plans consisted of family, friends and former co-workers who lined up on on a nearby street and who slowly drove past, honking and waving and displaying signs. Some vehicles were adorned with balloons.
“You can’t have a birthday party, and I’m not going to see her because of the coronavirus,” said Jones’ brother, William Holley of Shreveport. Holley, who arrived in separate vehicles with son William Jr. and grandson Tyler Holley, all of Shreveport, said he had not seen Jones since before a stay-at-home order went into effect in March.
Jones said with a laugh, “Heavens no,” when asked whether she ever had a birthday party like Saturday’s. She said she had not seen some family members in six years.
Those family members included granddaughter Bionca Sherrod of Memphis, Tennessee.
“She deserves it,” Sherrod said. “She is a wonderful human being, and she is the matriarch of our family.”
Others who drove by Jones’ house included Margaret Kuhn, a longtime friend of Jones.
“We used to always hang out at the (now-defunct) Elks Lodge,” Kuhn said. “She has always been a very nice person.”
A native of Guntown, Mississippi, Jones joined the Longview Police Department in December 1968 and became a certified officer about three years later. She worked on patrol until 1981 and later became a detective, according to her biography. She stayed with the department until June 1986.
Now widowed, she lives with her son, Chester Jr.
“It was just a job to see if I could do it,” Jones said while standing in her front yard. “I worked with some fabulous people.”