Tonight at 6:30 pm at the Pavilion at Expo Square, the community is invited to celebrate the 43 year public career of Bob Dick – from street cop to County Commissioner – and to raise money in benefit for Expo Square. While not exactly a secret (he knows we are doing something), it is a surprise party and no one asked his permission to do any of this.
On tap is a full dinner with hundreds of friends and family and a night of “roasting” entertainment for this celebration of a lifetime. Tickets are available at the door.
Public life is not easy and critics abound at every turn, but if there is to be any civility, honor, and loyalty in government service, it is important to recognize those who have led the good fight without scandal or abuse of the public trust.
A Sapulpa-born Tulsan since age 8 – Bob Dick graduated from Central High School before serving a four-year stint in the United States Navy. At 24, Bob joined the Tulsa Police Department in June of 1963; he was promoted to corporal in 1967 and sergeant and senior investigator in 1970. In 1973, he earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa, even as he rose in the TPD ranks, becoming a lieutenant in 1974 – and a captain in 1976, a major in 1977 and deputy chief in 1978.
In 1983, as he was promoted to Chief of Police after 20 years on the force, Bob said, “I fluked into becoming a police officer,” recalling that a friend urged he give up a job as night manager of a bowling center [Sheridan Lanes] to enroll in the Police Academy.
Having held every job from flatfoot to chief, Bob is credited with forming Tulsa’s first narcotics unit and burglary prevention unit. He was Tulsa’s first trained hostage negotiator and later developed the department’s nationally recognized hostage negotiations team.
The Tulsa Tribune documented Bob Dick’s management philosophy when he was first appointed Chief at age 44 after a national search by then-mayor-now-U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe. Bob, talking about his successor said, “I don’t like yes men. I like people who will argue with me – in private.”
“There is nothing I won’t change, if change will bring improvement,” Bob once said.
Three months after Bob took office came the Sgt. Harry Ekiss affair. Ekiss, a 21-year TPD veteran, published a department newsletter that often was satirical and critical of everyone from civic officials to the department administration.
Ekiss stepped over the line, Bob said, after he wrote in racial terms about the possibilities for promotion of a black and a Jewish officer. After consultation with his staff, Dick demoted Ekiss from sergeant to private. Ekiss subsequently resigned.
Asked if he regretted his decision and the uproar it caused, Bob said, “We have to lead by example. Sometime prior to that incident, we had conducted a management workshop to explore ways to change the minority community’s perception of the police as prejudiced and insensitive. Sgt. Ekiss was in attendance at that workshop.”
Chief Bob also held the position of Major City Chief with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association, and has served as an instructor at Tulsa Junior College, Northeastern Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the Tulsa Police Academy.
Bob satisfied his curiosity about the legal profession by practicing law during the day while working as a captain on the night shift. In making the choice between the two professions, he opted not for wealth but an appreciation of the variety of people a policeman meets and helps in the course of a day. Bob said, “It’s a bit of a rush when you do something no one else can do. To think you can really make a difference is the attraction many get from public life, whether they admit it or not. To me, it is thinking that I might do something that 25 years from now will have an effect.”
In 1987, when his appointment as Police and Fire Commissioner was the subject of a partisan bickering, Bob awaited the decision without a public comment. When finally approved by the City Commission – by unanimous vote – Bob spoke of the prior interviews with Commissioners who resisted his appointment, saying he respected their position and called them honorable men.
“Neither Metcalfe nor Watts made any conditions whatsoever on their approval [of my appointment as Commissioner]. They didn’t ask me for anything. Frankly, if they had, I would have withdrawn,” he said. Although he shared most of his fellow Republicans’ views, Bob told the media he would make his own decisions on the commission – and so he did.
Bob said, “One thing I told Watts and Metcalfe is they won’t ever be surprised at anything I have to say on an issue, because I will let them know first, before going public. There might be a time when we have a public feud, but it will be based on issues, not on personalities.”
Tonight his friends will share more of his career and their personal stories of his service.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 January 2007 )