OVER THE YEARS THERE HAVE BEEN FEW IF ANY programs quite like the April 22 event at a downtown Hyatt Regency steakhouse honoring all HPD officers 70 years of age with at least 30 years on the force.
The special recognition luncheon stopped just short of “This is Your Life” productions for six well respected HPD mentors who together account for more than 256 years of Houston policing experience.
Those “lifers” are:
- Sgt. Ben Norman, age 79, with 57 years.
- Sgt. John Pohlman, 71, with 47 years.
- Sgt. Ralph Yarborough, 70, with 44 years.
- Senior Police Officer Joe Falco, 72, with 40 years.
- Sgt. Wilbur Robertson, 70, with 35 years.
- Sgt. Charles Davis, 70, with 33 years.
That 256-year total might be misleading since we are failing to include another 15 or so years these long-time law enforcement personnel served on other police forces.
The Union was front and center in deciding that recognition of these “high-seniority” folks was long overdue. HPOU board member Gary Hicks – also our official photographer – headed the effort to put together the event at Shula’s Steak House, which truly surprised individuals not accustomed to such generous lunchtime accommodations.
Not only was the food good but so was the keynote speaker, a fellow law enforcement officer well known as “Big E” – Basketball Hall of Fame member and one-time UH all-America Elvin Hayes, a commissioned police officer assigned to the Jersey Village force as well as Precinct 2 in Fort Bend County. Big E told the distinguished group he strongly feels that going through a police academy was more strenuous than the National Basketball Association.
Hicks recognized Officer Mary Young for her ability to pinpoint Hayes for the task and Young quickly identified fellow Southwest Division officers Sherry Holden, Ronald Prince and Sulei Johns for lending a hand with decorations and seating details. The African American Police Officers League’s Ryan Johnson also had a part on the program.
Congratulations to these young-looking septuagenarians for their honorable careers at HPD and our hats are off to Hicks, Young and the career for a job well done.