Jack's Phoenix PD CareerAfter this big gator jumped nearly out of the bathtub toward me, and after Jack had calmed me down, he began to tell me about his love for kids. And this led to the story of his beginnings on the Phoenix, AZ., Police Department. The alligator had been part of his equipment used in school in south Phoenix, where he went into classrooms as "Officer Friendly". Back in about 1978, when the program started, Alley Oop, as Jack called him, was small enough to fit in a briefcase.
The following story is adapted from an article in the Mesa Tribune which I wrote sometime in about 1984.
Gerald J. "Jack" McLamb joined the Phoenix Police Department in 1976 to help people. He was awarded the "officer of the year" award twice in his first few years on the department. He was a good cop, and he was even better at communicating to his community. His pioneering in the area of police-juvenile relations resulted in the nation-wide Officer Friendly Program, sponsored by the Sears, Roebuck Foundation things looked good for Jack.
Then something happened. Jack decided to take his community involvement a step further and express his religious, moral and political beliefs on his own time. Off duty. It might not have gone so badly for him if his opinions were more to the liking of Phoenix Police Chief Reuben Ortega or some of the other brass on the department. But Jack McLamb made up his own mind about problems he saw in America and in law enforcement. For example, he publicly stated that he thought the DWI roadblocks by the Arizona DPS in the Kingman area in 1982 were violating citizens' rights.
The American Citizen and Lawmen Association (ACLA), which he founded, filed a legal brief denouncing them because they violated the Fourth Amendment. Later, the Arizona Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled them to be unconstitutional. This didn't sit well with his superiors.
Then ACLA began conducting firearms training classes to teach people proper and safe handling of the guns they legally owned, including instruction on self protection. Too many police officers feel citizens should not have guns, that they should leave the dangerous stuff to the cops. McLamb's response was, "Can you guarantee that there will be a police officer sitting at the curb whenever a rapist, burglar, or any other kind of hoodlum tries to do his thing? Obviously not.
Next, he took on national issues, and spoke out against the abusive tactics used by the Internal Revenue Service and the BATF, among others. He warned police officers to be careful when when being "used" by the IRS to do the dirty work of seizing property without giving citizens due process. These are dangerous situations and some have involved being shot at. How prophetic.
The Power of the Pen
The final straw was the creation of Jack's Aid and Abet Police and Military Newsletter, which gained a national following among law enforcement, other public officials and the public. He was pressured by superiors to quit writing it as police commanders around the country put pressure on Chief Ortega to shut him up. Internal Affairs investigators asked him about his religious beliefs, including what church he attended. They even assigned a supervisor to follow him both on and off duty. Surveillance was on of Jack's fortes. So it was kind of funny, when Jack would make a quick 180go the other way toward his "shadow", and wave at the poor stooge as he went past
Still, he kept publishing. And citizens all over the country were passing out his pamphlet A Lawman Speaks for Liberty and issues of Aid and Abet to police officers on the streets, at the police academies, and in court. Lawmen and women were joining ACLA rapidly. No doubt, Chief Ortega was getting a lot of grief from police commanders nationwide, telling him he should get this renegade cop under control.
Finally Jack was called in and ordered by Assistant Chief Bennie Click to turn over the mailing list and financial records of Aid and Abet. He refused, citing his Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression. Click fired him on the spot. Click told a reporter, "We're not saying he can't write those things, we're saying he can't do that and be a police officer." Click lost my respect when he failed to practice what he had preached to my academy class about integrity and doing the right thing. (Though I worked for Mesa PD, I attended the Phoenix Regional Police Academy, and there were recruits from six different agencies in my class.)
Fortunately the appeals process allowed Jack's case to be heard by a civilian board that was not controlled by the police department. When they heard the facts, the board gave him his job back with full back pay. The decision was unanimous.
They also delivered a scathing rebuke to Chief Ortega and Click. "I might not agree with he has to say", said Michael Sophy, a member of the board, "but he has every right in the world to say it. You don't discipline people for what they believe."
This should have been the end of the story, but the HDIC (Head Dude in Charge) couldn't leave it alone. Jack McLamb had made them look like the sorry egotists they were. So they put him back to work, as they had been ordered, but they took away his intelligence position, and sent him back to an undesirable patrol position. He promptly was awarded the officer of the month award, further humiliating them. As the photo above shows, there are some things even a bullet-proof vest won't stop.
But that didn't even slow Jack down in his mission to reach police, military and other public servants with the message that their oath was a sacred trust, and that freedom slips away when the enforcers aren't vigilant in protecting rights. Jack was the original oathkeeper.