A Visit with my old Partner
June 7th, 2010 by Bob Letterman
I first met Joe Mokwa immediately after he had graduated from the police academy. I had just returned to the department after a 3 year stint in the corporate world. I had been a cop since 1962, but after some flattering publicity, accepted one of the offers from corporate America. Although successful, I just didn’t care for the environment. It was January, 1972. We rode together a couple of times and then became permanent partners. Joe had a work ethic I had never seen in another police officer. He was also the most dedicated cop I ever knew. He was right out of the academy at 21 years old. I was 29 then and was teased a lot about being the “old” guy.
Joe and I were detectives since 1973 and this photo was taken in 1976. Many of the kids in the inner city area called us Starsky and Hutch! Some of our other “names”, “Moko and Lantern”, “Snow boy and Latimore”. It never occurred to me we had such difficult names to pronounce.
Here we were made to wear suits while reporters were assigned to ride with us.
Our normal attire was not suits. In the beginning years, the St. Louis press called us “The Hippie Cops”.
We spent all of our time together working out of the Penrose station, fifth district detective bureau. Click on images to enlarge.
Back in the day! Click on images to enlarge.
Joe was never a great driver. One of our many accidents while in pursuit. This one I was on the bottom and the car was filling up with gasoline.
In 1980, headquarters was concerned because we had several “Contracts” on our lives from underworld figures and those contracts had been confirmed by intelligence. The powers that be wanted us off the street and offered us our choice of assignments. Joe went into the intelligence unit and I went to the Circuit Attorney’s Special Investigation Unit, (S.I.U.).
My Desk in the S.I.U. Office.
Here I am toward the end of my police career in the Circuit Attorney’s S.I.U. returning from Germany with a man charged with murder. I had to be made a temporary U.S. Marshall to be able to carry a gun on the aircrafts. He had escaped to Germany where he was arrested by Interpol.
Click on images to enlarge.
Taken in 1992, Joe was a major and I was CEO of the VLS Corporation.
A very different pair of dudes in 2010, 34 years later. Don’t you agree? Click on images to enlarge.
Here we are at my 70th Birthday party. That was in may, 2011.
We have remained friends ever since. Later, I started VLS at home and it grew to the point that I took early retirement to run it full time in 1985. Joe went on to be, in my opinion, the best chief of police in St. Louis history! He retired about a year ago. I attended his retirement party at the top of the Metropolitan Square tower, the tallest tower in St. Louis, catered by Kemoll’s restaurant. On Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, he came to spend the day at my house. Those were the best years of our lives, we were like brothers and remain so to this day!