Two female Patrol pioneers recall the good ol’ days With smiles, a few stories and lots of appreciation

Tom Kennedy

In a 1975 edition of The Houston Post, Shirley Linwood and Judy Jacobs were the first two women to go from the Academy to Patrol duties.

Now, 42 years later, both of these two HPD policewomen are honorably retired and used almost the same words to tell the Badge & Gun how much they loved their jobs and could not revert to those negatives that often crop up and cloud a career.

The two broke a time-held tradition of female academy graduates going directly to one of three assignments – dispatch, the jail or the Juvenile Division.

Jacobs served more than 32 years, while Linwood served 22 years before retiring.

Linwood beams with pride when she recalls her Special Ops duty guarding Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid politician and philanthropist.

Patrol only Choice

Jacobs laughs when she recalls “I went on more foot chases in Juvenile than I did on Patrol” – including one when she fell over a young suspect after chasing him over three fences in a neighborhood. Although nearing exhaustion, she put the cuffs on him and hauled him in.

The two were the only females in HPD Academy Class No. 71 that graduated on Dec. 5 of that year. HPD was at a major personnel crossroads at the time, having asserted a plan to recruit more women while also needing more officers on the streets.

The graduation ceremony was held in the old Houston Coliseum in downtown. “They gave us a card and asked us to write down where we wanted to go,” Linwood remembers. “We had three choices but Patrol was not one of the three choices.

“Once we finished at the Coliseum, they told us that the whole class of ‘71 was going to Patrol. We were terrified. We didn’t know we were making history. We were the only two females in the class.”

“My mom said quit, don’t go to Patrol,” said Jacobs, who looks back on her career with smiles and satisfaction. “It was a good experience. I loved it. I was sent to 2-til-10 with John Long. It was strange – he went to my church. I’d known him a long time. They didn’t know that when they assigned me to him.

“We went to First Baptist Church in Jacinto City. I had been going there since I moved to Houston in 1973 and had known him at least a couple of years.”

As they reflect on their years as pioneer patrolwomen, both Linwood and Jacobs point out that the department’s administrators went around to the male Patrol officers to determine if they had problems riding with a female officer.

“There were some,” Jacobs said, again with a laugh. “But I never had a problem with anybody.”

Linwood, like Jacobs, started in Central Patrol although she was on 3-to-11 in 17 District, roughly covering Freedman’s Town (Fourth Ward) and Montrose. Her first partner was the late Officer Clifton Gallentine and he would immediately prove to be gentleman and an officer.

Linwood couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the recollection.

“My first call was an alarm at River Oaks Bank,” she said. “It was a silent alarm call.” They dutifully met with bank officers, ascertained what had happened and returned to their patrol car.

“He unlocked and opened my door, as he stood there waiting for me to get in the patrol car.” Linwood said. “I can get my own door.”

“Oh, okay.” Gallentine said.  Then he walked back to his side of the patrol car and got in.

A few rookie officers in HPD history can remember drawing their pistol and firing it on their first day or in their first week or month of work on Patrol. Not so Linwood or Jacobs.

“We were making regular calls,” Jacobs said, accessing the far reaches of her memory bank. “The first thing we did was stop a vehicle on traffic. We ended up just writing a ticket.”

She, too, had no conflicts with the men with whom she was partnered. Unlike the movies or television, there was no drama.

“I always felt that, back then, most of the time if you treated people with respect, they treated you with respect back.”

She said she felt that worked both with her male and female colleagues as well as the suspects she arrested, saying, “I did get into a few fights but most of the time it went pretty good. I never had to shoot anybody or anything like that.”

Linwood grew up in Rusk County in East Texas and attended Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas for one year, before moving to Dallas. In Dallas, she worked for the State Welfare Agency, before transferring to the Bayou City to work in the license division; coincidentally the same year Jacobs arrived. She successfully entered the HPD Academy in August 1975.

Jacobs grew up in San Antonio and attended Trinity University for a year and a half before moving to Houston to join her sister. She transferred to the University of Houston and worked a job at Fotomat, the one-time photo-processing business in various locations over the city.

“Police officers used to come by there to use the phone,” she said. “This was before cell phones. They told me I should consider applying. They were hiring more women. Another girl and I decided we’d go down there. This was August in 1975.”

The other girl didn’t quite make it. But Jacobs persevered.

Positive Experiences

Both Linwood and Jacobs accentuated the positives in their interviews with the B&G.

“I was riding by myself and I stopped a guy,” Linwood recalled. I had stopped him in Fourth Ward on one of those small streets. I gave the dispatcher his ID and DOB and they ran it and the guy came back wanted.

“The guys (on Patrol) checked by with me right away. I cuffed him; put him in my patrol car and I took him to jail.”

Generally over her more than two decades wearing the blue Linwood said she did her job and has nothing but stories of the congeniality between male and female officers. Like most of her contemporaries – male or female – she did a six-month assignment to the jail at 61 Riesner.

Later in her career, Linwood returned to night shift jail. She became a notary and worked several positions in the jail. She worked the complaint desk, bonding and sixth floor (women jail).

She fit right into the Patrol division but preferred the jail in order to raise her son. When she first had the scheduling problem, she was urged to “talk with her sergeant (Sgt. Eichholtz).” He made it possible for her to return to the jail, which allowed her more time to spend with her son, that she is forever grateful for.

Time has caused those memory problems so many of us have when we try to recall first names and names of fellow officers encountered over a long career. Linwood might not recall all the names but she firmly states a well known fact in her memory:

“I had all good partners. I’ve heard some females talk about the problems they had riding with (male) partners. But I didn’t. It was just a great experience to be out there with the guys. We ran calls and were like a family in District 17.”

Later in her career, Linwood was assigned to Special Operations, the division whose duties include patrolling the downtown area, guarding politicians and other dignitaries who come to Houston for speeches and special events. She especially remembers guarding Nelson Mandela of South Africa one year when he made an appearance at Texas Southern University. He was easily persuaded to pose for a picture with her – a memento that the retired officer especially treasures.

During the term of Mayor Bob Lanier (1992-1998) Linwood was among the officers responding to a disturbance involving a woman in the City Hall basement. “I don’t know what she was doing there but she had a gun,” Linwood recalled. “It was one of the most dangerous situations I ever have been in. The woman was arrested and SWAT had it under control.”

That was one of the incidents in which Linwood pulled her gun. She, like other officers received a certificate of appreciation from Mayor Lanier for keeping his administration safe.

Linwood (Williams) retirement date was Dec. 27, 1997 after serving 22 years.

Chasing Suspects

As part of its permanent records the Houston Police Officers Pension System (HPOPS) has a certificate commemorating the retirement of Senior Police Officer Judy A. Jacobs “in appreciation for her “32 years, 11 months and 8 days of outstanding, dedicated and faithful service to the City of Houston Police Department.” The certificate was issued on Jacobs’ official retirement date of Nov. 15, 2008.”

To hear her tell it, Senior Police Officer Jacobs must have run fast – literally and figuratively – each one of those days over practically 33 years.

As she said, she chased down more bad guys working Juvenile than she did in patrol. Of course, she found her niche in Juvenile and spent 25 years there. But first there was Patrol. “I remember my last chase on Northeast Patrol,” she said. “It was off Wayside, North Wayside. There were two burglars. My partner went one way, I the other. I went over three different fences. I barely got over the third fence and when I did I fell over the guy. I was out of breath and fell on top of him. I didn’t have to fight him. I handcuffed him.

“I was not as good as I was in the beginning, so I transferred to Juvenile.”

This was in the eighties. Juvenile officers would get referrals from Children’s Protective Services to investigate cases of actual physical abuse of children. Again, she was a pioneer. This was a point in time when HPD and police departments across the nation were paying more attention to child abuse and violence against women. Jacobs had served two six-month stints in the Jail Division in addition to her service in Patrol and Traffic Enforcement. Department records reveal that her first official day in Juvenile was Sept. 11, 1980.

“During her time spent in the Juvenile Division, Officer Jacobs worked in numerous assignments and consistently demonstrated high levels of productivity and motivation. She is highly regarded among her peers and supervisors as a dedicated, responsible and motivated employee.”

By the 1990s Jacobs was among the officers who participated in actions resulting from state and federal mandates that required registration and tracking convicted sex offenders. The department’s records show that she “was instrumental in laying the foundation of what is now the department’s Sex Offender Registration Unit.” At this point in time (2008) the unit had registered more than 3,000 convicted sex offenders.

While Jacobs “registered” sex offenders, the names of whom can be easily found by ZIP Code on an iPhone app in today’s more modern era, she also tracked them down. Her favorite partner was now-retired Juvenile Sex Crimes officer, Dalia Hester.

“I would help her run her warrants and, at times, with her investigations,” Jacobs recounted. “One time we went to every single Motel 6 in Houston, trying to find the card that had this guy (a pedophile) with his drivers license or DOB on it.

“This one particular suspect had taken two boys to different motels. They couldn’t remember which but remembered they were all Motel 6s.” This was in earlier year before computers superseded the bulkier paper records of each and every registered guess. Jacobs and Hester contacted each Motel 6 manager and poured over registration cards from the effective time period, a grueling task, for certain.

Finally a card turned up with the man’s name and the fact that he had registered with “two boys.”

“This confirmed the boys’ stories,” Jacobs said with obvious pride in her voice. “We ended up filing charges against him. He had taken them there several times in connection with certain events at the Astrodome.”

Jacobs said she spent the last 10 years of her HPD career registering sex offenders, some for 10 years and others for life. Some had to report in once a year, others every three months. “We registered them,” she said. “If they didn’t come in, we filed charges and arrested them.” Initially, it was just Jacobs and one other officer. Eventually the unit expanded and included an enforcement arm. When she left in ’08, HPD had combined many of these efforts with Harris County.

Jacobs admitted that she “didn’t keep a diary and my memory is terrible.” As you expect when an officer tells war stories, she remembers “the one that got away” – referring to the only juvenile who wrested himself away from her grasp as she attempted to serve a warrant.

“We had a picture of this guy,” she said. “We were driving down Fulton. My partner was driving in front of Doneraki’s and we saw this guy beating up a homeless guy. The teenager took off and we recognized him as the guy we were looking for. We weren’t in uniform; we were in plain clothes. I didn’t have my handcuffs on me.

“I got the guy. I had him and he jerked away and took off. I didn’t catch him. I saw him again but didn’t catch him. Another unit finally got him. All the others we chased, we always caught. They were pretty much cooperative after I chased them a little bit.”

Asked about her role models, Jacobs especially cited a sergeant named Jesse Foroi along with Lt. E. J. Smith, who specialized in traffic. “There were so many,” she said, “but I really enjoyed working with those two, especially E. J. Smith. He was very professional, an overall nice guy. His uniform was spic and span. He always looked like everything was in place. He did everybody right.”

Like Linwood, Jacobs said she never felt harassed by any of her male counterparts, saying she enjoyed working with each of them. “I never really had any problems with any male officers. They (department administrators) went ahead and asked if they didn’t want to ride with a female. Riding with any of them (males), I never had any problem. I told them: ‘I know I’m not as strong as you. If we get into a fight (with a suspect), I’ll give it all I got.’ ”

And she did.

“I enjoyed every minute. It was a great career. I don’t regret any of it. I enjoyed all of it. I don’t think people have the respect for officers nowadays than they used to.”