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LAPD honors death of 'Minister of Leather'

March 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles Police Department paid tribute Monday to a man who took pride in keeping its officers looking their best. For more than 20 years, he ran a shoeshine stand at Parker Center, and police say he took the phrase "spit and polish" very seriously. The man being honored at the memorial service served the department for 21 years. He wasn't a cop, but as Chief William Bratton put it, he played a major part in keeping the department's image shining, literally. He was David Lee Briggs, better known as "Doctor Dave," or the "Minister of Leather." His shoeshine stand at Parker Center, as one officer put it, was his throne. He was a fixture here, a big smile and always had plenty to say and had the ear to listen.

"He seemed to know a little bit about everything and no matter what you wanted to talk about he was always happy to voice his opinion or listen," said Chief Bratton. "He was just a wonderful presence in the building."

Briggs died last month. He's survived by his mother and his son, David Lee Briggs Jr., a struggling musician from South Carolina.

"I'm going to miss my dad," said Briggs' son. "You know we didn't see eye to eye sometimes, but I knew he was proud of me and he really was supportive of what I was doing."

Though he wasn't a sworn officer, he had the same dedication to his job as the rank and file he shined shoes and belts and leather gear for.

"He'd come to work whether he was feeling good or not and that's a quality that's hard to find in people these days," said Lt. Natalie Williams, LAPD.

When you walked by his stand, his radio would be loud and he always had plenty to talk about. Monday, it was quiet. No music, no conversation, just emptiness, a feeling many of the rank and file feel after learning their Minister of Leather has passed.


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