Robert E. Jackson, police officer, investigator

Robert Jackson
Robert Jackson
Posted: November 08, 2013

Robert E. Jackson, 95, a Philadelphia police officer and investigator for 37 years and later a dedicated volunteer at Lankenau Hospital, died Thursday, Oct. 31, at his daughter's home in Philadelphia.

Born in Staten Island, N.Y., and raised in Bayonne, N.J., he attended Bayonne High School before beginning his military career.

He served with the Army in World War II from 1941 to 1945, including 40 months in an antiaircraft artillery unit in the South Pacific.

After the war, Mr. Jackson became the first African American prison guard assigned to Holmesburg Prison. That led to his 1951 appointment as a police officer. He rose to detective in Southwest Philadelphia, and then sergeant assigned to the Morals Squad.

Mr. Jackson dealt with troubled youngsters in his role as a juvenile-aid and gang-control officer. "He was very passionate about getting young people that were misdirected back on the right path," his daughter Eilene Frierson said.

Two highlights of his career, he told family, were the chance to work undercover with the FBI and serving under then-Police Capt. Frank Rizzo on vice arrests and surveillance in the 12th Police District.

Mr. Jackson was picked for the elite Dick Anderson Squad, an all-black plainclothes unit named for Richard H. Anderson, one of the few black police sergeants at the time. The 60-man squad operated primarily in black neighborhoods along South Street and served from 1943 until 1952.

After retiring from the force in 1971, Mr. Jackson worked for 17 years as an investigator for the Defender Association of Philadelphia. He retired in 1988.

He was a founding member and president of Los Hermanos, a nonprofit that raises funds for youth-oriented charities. In 2007, the group gave him a plaque for being its longest-standing president.

In 1945, Mr. Jackson, a lifelong Philadelphian, married the former Isma Dickson. They had two daughters before they divorced. She died in 1997.

In 1972, he married the former Alicene Lewis. The two enjoyed traveling and entertaining until her death in 2006.

For 14 years ending in 2011, Mr. Jackson volunteered in the Transport Department at Lankenau Hospital. He moved patients through the hospital to treatments and tests. When his legs failed, he ran the transport desk as dispatcher.

He loved the work, his daughter said. "That was his second family."

Surviving, besides his daughter, are another daughter, Melodie; two grandchildren; a brother; and nieces and nephews.

A viewing from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral at St. Matthew's A.M.E. Church, 215 N. 57th St., Philadelphia. Interment will be in Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown.



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