Served: 4½ years
October 16, 1930 to February 25, 1935
Roy was born April 14, 1906 in Kings Mountain, Kentucky, the tenth of eleven children born to farmers, Jesse David and Mary Virginia (Padgett) Hicks. By 1910, the family had moved to 1572 Gest Street in Cincinnati and by 1920, 1071 Liberty Street. By 1930, Roy was a salesman, had a wife, Vernice, and a child, Molly, and was living at 4519 W. 8th Street in Price Hill.
A year before, Roy’s younger brother, Harry, joined the Cincinnati Police Division. On October 16, 1930, Roy also joined. For a short time, they served together in District 4.
On February 1, 1935, Patrolman J. Roy Hicks was transferred to the Station X (Headquarters) Motorcycle Squad. Also by 1935, he had moved his growing family of four to 3623 Laclede Avenue. He was also an accomplished musician and on February 17, 1935, as he had in the two years past, Patrolman Hicks played taps at the annual Police Memorial Ceremony honoring the 62 Cincinnati officers who had died in the line of duty. Little did he know then that he would be Number 63.
On February 25, 1935, Motorcycle Patrolman Hicks left his home on Laclede to attend 7 a.m. roll call at City Hall when he apparently observed a maroon vehicle speeding in the opposite direction. He turned around and paced the vehicle going 50 miles per hour. Floyd Norris of 3104 Warsaw Avenue saw him chasing the maroon vehicle at W. 8th Street and Sunset Avenue. Immediately after the double bends in the road in the 4300 block of W. 8th Street, Patrolman Hicks lost control, struck a curb at 4344 W. 8th Street near Hermosa Avenue and crashed the motorcycle.
Patrolman Hicks sustained a skull fracture, internal injuries, and a cut over his right eye. He was found unconscious by Victor Pepper, 4379 West Eighth Street, who summoned police. Because no patrol car was available for transport, Patrolman Hicks was not taken to General Hospital right away. He remained in the cold street until transportation could be obtained.
Patrolman Hicks died at the hospital three hours later with his brother, Patrolman Harry Hicks, at his side.
Motorcycle Patrolman Hicks was survived by his wife, Vernice (Cappel) Hicks; two small daughters, Mollie Hicks (5) and Carol Hicks (1); and numerous siblings. He was buried in Section 24, Grave 458 of Vine Street Hill Cemetery. Six fellow officers served as pall bearers: Patrolmen Robert Leigh (who died in a similar fashion five years later), Clifford Rhein, Fay Gallaher, Henry Heller, William Kelleher, and Henry Zimpelman. Vernice Hicks received a $70 per month widow’s pension for the rest of her life.
While attending the funeral, the residence of his brother, Patrolman Harry R. Hicks, at 4121 West Liberty was destroyed by fire due to a faulty furnace.
His eventual grandson, Donald Hasselbeck, and great grandsons Matt and Tim Hasselbeck, became professional football players. Don and Matt played in Superbowls XVIII and XL.
Because of the medical transportation difficulties encountered at the scene of Patrolman Hicks’ accident, the Division eventually purchased seven new “Combination Cruiser/Invalid Cars,” each equipped with two stretchers and first aid kits. They were made by Ford Motor Company and designed by Cincinnati Police Chief Eugene T. Weatherly. They later became known as Scout Cars and they are still used internationally today.
All told, since area law enforcement had begun using motorcycles in the 1920s, twelve area officers had died in such accidents: Cheviot Assistant Marshal Albert Schmitt, Fairfield Township Motorcycle Constable Emery Farmer, Covington Motorcycle Patrolman David Rogers, North College Hill Deputy Marshal Arthur Seaman, Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolman J. Roy Hicks, Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolman Howard Beitman, Covington Motorcycle Patrolman Harry Rose, Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolmen Robert Leigh and John Neal, Reading Motorcycle PatroLman Willard Santel, and Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolmen John Hughes and Lewis Hall.
By 1944, Chief Weatherly, after the motorcycle death of Patrolman John Neal, determined to abandon two-wheel motorcycles and replace them with Scout Cars.
If you have any information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was revised on February 22, 2015 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with research provided by Karen Arbogast, Cincinnati Police Dispatcher (Retired), former Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Research Volunteer.