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 to 1071 Liberty Street. During 1930, Roy was a salesman, had a wife, Vernice, his first child, Mary Molly Hicks, was born, and they were all living at 4519 W. 8th Street in Price Hill.
During 1929, Roy’s younger brother, Harry Hicks, joined the Cincinnati Police Division as a Patrolman. On October 16, 1930, Roy also joined. For a short time, they served together in District 4. Both patrolmen were accomplished musicians, playing mostly trumpets and soon both were playin in several police bands.
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. On February 17, 1935, as he had in the two years past, he 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 his brother would be playing taps for him at the next memorial.
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, Mary 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.
Patrolman Hick’s daughter, Mollie, would marry and bore her husband several children, including professional football player Donald Hasselbeck. His great-grandsons would be Matt and Tim Hasselbeck, NFL quarterbacks 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.
By 1944, Chief Weatherly, after the motorcycle death of Patrolman John W. Neal Jr., determined to abandon two-wheel motorcycles and replace them with Scout Cars.
All told, since area law enforcement had begun using motorcycles in the 1910s, 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 Howard “Bud” Seaman, Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolman J. Roy Hicks, Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolman Howard Beitman, Covington Motorcycle Patrolman Harry Rose, Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolmen Robert Leigh and John W. Neal Jr., Reading Motorcycle Patrolman Willard Santel, and Cincinnati Motorcycle Patrolmen John Hughes and Lewis Hall.
If you have any information, artifacts, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@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. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.