Officer was superhero to department
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
12/13/12 at 2:56 AM
You could thumb through every one of Andy Phillips' 30,000 comic books and still not find one: a superhero who could match him for sheer personal magnetism.
"Andy connected with everybody. He was tall, handsome, outgoing, warm. Everybody loved him," Tulsa Police Chaplain Danny Lynchard said.
"When you met Andy, you didn't think about what he did - his work as a police officer - but who he was as a person."
A former public information officer for the Tulsa Police Department who was well known for his near-obsessive love for comic books, Phillips plied those personal qualities well in helping the Police Department connect with the community.
Among the many programs and projects with which he was involved, Phillips wrote the "Ask-a-Cop" column for the Tulsa World and spent hours with youths talking about the dangers of drugs.
Andrew D. "Andy" Phillips Jr., a retired 25-year police veteran and onetime Tulsa City Council candidate, died Sunday. He was 56.
A service is set for 11 a.m. Friday at Mount Rose Baptist Church under the direction of Dyer Funeral Home.
On one of Phillips' shoulders, opposite a cross on the other, was the tattoo of a war hammer - the weapon of Thor, one of his favorite comic-book characters.
As a police spokesman, Phillips did not usually need super powers or accessories.
But he did need a steely demeanor.
"I never saw Andy get excited, not even in the field," said Lucky Lamons, a fellow retired Tulsa Police Department public information officer and former state lawmaker.
Whether addressing the media at a homicide scene or a hostage situation, "he put a very good face on the department. He was very laid back and had a very calming sense about him and had the same effect on those around him."
Lamons, who worked with Phillips for eight years in public information for the Tulsa Police Department after both were assigned to the office in August 1994, said, "Andy was a people person. Very kind-hearted. He will be sorely missed."
After Phillips joined the Police Department in 1978, he worked patrol and then became a public relations officer, which included his serving as a D.A.R.E. instructor at Tulsa schools.
"He never had a desire to promote into the ranks of administration," Lynchard said. "He preferred to stay as close to the community as possible ... to build a bridge of understanding between the community and the Police Department, a role in which he took great pride."
As a department PIO, he was the face and voice of the department with local media. He was active with the Tulsa Crime Commission and Alert Neighbors.
Phillips retired in 2003. He tried politics, twice running unsuccessfully for City Council. In 2005, he narrowly lost the District 5 seat to Bill Martinson.
In his spare time, Phillips enjoyed riding his motorcycle. But nothing could top his passion for comic books.
The hobby, which began for him as a boy when he bought his first "Richie Rich" from Latimer's Drug Store in Tulsa, helped ease the stresses of police work.
Frequenting fan conventions, Phillips bought and traded his way to a collection of about 30,000 issues. After he ran out of space at home, he stored them with a local comic book shop.
"Every time I see a superhero action figure, I think of Andy," Lynchard said.
"We all would buy him action figures from time to time. He loved superheroes."
Phillips' survivors include his father, the Rev. Andrew Phillips Sr.; his stepmother, Bernice Phillips; a daughter, Thai Powell; two brothers, Adrian Phillips and Ashton Phillips; and a stepsister, Diane Henderson.
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Andy Phillips: As a police spokesman, Phillips didn't need super powers, but he did need a steely demeanor. "I never saw Andy get excited, not even in the field," said Lucky Lamons, a retired Tulsa Police Department public information officer. Whether addressing the media at a homicide scene or a hostage situation, "he put a very good face on the department."