David Lee Briggs Sr., shoeshine man was 56 *

BriggsBriggs was known around Los Angeles police headquarters at Parker Center as Dr. Dave, Minister of Leather. He shined shoes in the lobby for 21 years and on Monday he will receive a department funeral in the rock garden at the academy. His customers only discovered he had passed on when he didn't show up at work for two weeks. Betty Pleasant picks up the story in the L.A. Wave:

Briggs was a likable fellow with whom police personnel bonded with ease. He could talk to and listen to anyone. “He knew a lot about what was going on in the police department because as he was shining shoes, he would listen to what higher ups in the department were saying,” said Fred Booker, retired LAPD lieutenant and current special assistant to Chief William Bratton.

"Oftentimes, he had information I didn’t even know,” Booker laughed.

Even though Dr. Dave lived in a gang-infested, crime-prone neighborhood, he always managed to navigate it and show up at Parker Center to administer those world class spit shines to which the police personnel had become accustomed. So they were surprised when he missed work for a day or two; worried when his absence stretched into a week, alarmed when his no-show status neared two weeks and panic-stricken when they marked him missing-in-action for a full two weeks and went looking for him.

Booker went to Briggs’ home and learned he had died two weeks prior. Then he checked with the coroner’s office where he discovered that Briggs’ body was still lying unclaimed and that the cause of his death had not yet been determined.

“Dr. Dave’s only living relative is his 23-year-old son who lives in Charleston, S.C.,” said Booker. “I talked to him several times and he assured me that had no financial means to bury his father, but that he did want him to have a decent burial,” Booker said. “I informed Chief Bratton of this, and he said ‘He will.’”

Chief Bratton, forthwith, arranged for a police funeral, complete with honor guard, for Briggs, and for the airline flight of David Lee Briggs Jr. from Charleston to attend his father’s final rites.

“It did not matter if you were the chief of police or the newest officer, Dr. Dave’s standard for spit-shined leather was second to none,” Bratton said. “He was just as much a member of the LAPD family as any of those who benefited from, and at times, took full credit for, his work."

Briggs was a Vietnam veteran.

* Add: There's a story in Saturday's L.A. Times.

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