PD Stories Podcast: Sgt. Sticks Larkin on His Early Career | A&E

PD Stories Podcast: Sgt. Sticks Larkin on His Early Career | A&E


[music playing] TOM: On today’s episode
of “PD Stories,” I’m interviewing someone
I know very well– Sergeant Sean “Sticks” Larkin
from the Tulsa PD gang unit. Now, while many know Sticks
as my fellow analysts on “Live PD,” today we’re
gonna get to know more about his background
in law enforcement, and hear his harrowing story
of working a hostage situation. He’s also gonna tell us how
gangs migrated to Tulsa, and the methods his department
uses to measure success in the war against them. Sticks, welcome to the show. STICKS: Good morning, Tom.
Thank you. TOM: Good morning. Now I know you pretty well. We’ve been working together
for a while now on “Live PD,” and I just realized
that I don’t know how you got the nickname Sticks STICKS: Well, I can give
you the Safe-for-TV version or the real version. How about if I
kind of modify it? TOM: We keep it real
here on “PD Stories.” STICKS: OK, we’ll keep it real. So we’re all big boys.
TOM: Yep. STICKS: Big boys
and big girls here. Man, I was doing my
internship with the Tulsa Police Department back
in 1996 or so, I guess. I was 21 years old. And what my assignment was– I rode along with a unit
called the Foot Beat unit. And with the Foot Beat unit
did is it handled the problems in our housing projects there. And this is back in a
time when, you know, crack cocaine and crack
houses were everywhere, and gang members dressed head
to toe in their gang colors. They stood out on corners. A little different
than it is now. So I rode with this unit every
Friday and Saturday night. And it counted for my internship
hours for school, for college. So I rode with
the same two guys. They were young
officers themselves, had maybe three or four years on. And developed friendships with
them, just as I have with you. And one evening we’re out. We’re in a car pursuit. They get in a chase with
some gangsters in a car. Now, like I said, keep in mind,
I’m just doing an internship. I’m not a police officer. I’m a college– you
know, 21-year-old kid. And I was wearing a bulletproof
vest that they provided to me, just in case,
you know, heaven forbid, something went bad. And I carried a
flashlight with me. And that was it– no
handcuffs, no gun, no pepper spray, anything like that. So I’m young and I’m
pretty confident, I guess, with my
abilities, thinking I’m a police officer, or my
future hopefully becoming one. And one of the passengers
bails out of this car. And I mean, to this day
telling you this story, I remember this thing vividly. I remember exactly
where it was at. It was near one of
these housing complexes near a strip center that’s
even no longer there, but I can visualize
it perfectly. So the passenger
bails out of the car, and I jump out of the
backseat because the officers, you know, they ride in partners. And I chase this guy and
catch him pretty quick. So I tackle him and I
get him on the ground. And luckily for me,
I guess this bad guy just thought I was a cop. And so he didn’t really fight. But here I was, 21-year-old kid,
laying on top of this gangster without any handcuffs,
without a gun. And so the officer
catches up to me– the passenger that night. His name was Mike Eckert. And he catches up
to me, and you know, we get the guy handcuffed. And he’s like, hey, man. Great job. But you can’t do
that [bleep] Stick. And fill in the blank there for
what that word was, you know. And so that was kind
of the big joke. And then once I get hired,
I was in the Police Academy. Eckert and the other guy–
his name was Luke Sherman– they were both some of
our firearms instructors at the range, as well. And so they kind of just
started call me Stick Boy, but it was actually short
for F Stick for that night. And man, then once I
got on the streets, you know, the way the
gangster language goes, it’s kind of got its own
little street vibe to it. And they would hear
my name is Stick, and they thought it
was Sticks, or they kind of morphed it into Sticks. And to this day, that’s what
everybody from the judges there in Tulsa to our “Live
PD” viewers, yourself– TOM: America.
STICKS: Everybody. TOM: Now it’s America. America knows Sticks Larkin. Now, what did you
major in in college? And where’d you go to school? STICKS: Man, I went to– so you know, I’ve
talked about it before. I’m a Bay Area kid. My parents were both
in the military. And I grew up there
in San Francisco. And once I finished high
school, I moved out to Oklahoma. My parents divorced just
before my senior year. My father moved from the
Bay Area to San Diego. My mom had family outside of
Tulsa, so she moved out there. And I actually stayed my
senior year of high school back out in the Bay Area, and
lived with one of my friends. So I kind of knew I
was gonna be a cop. I mean, I knew from 15,
16 years old that was– TOM: Really?
STICKS: Oh, yeah. That was the path
I was gonna go. You know, I was very fortunate. I wasn’t one of those guys
that got into college, and changed majors, and wasn’t
sure what I was gonna do. I was dead set. Knew this was what I was
meant to do, so to speak. And so I moved out to Oklahoma
after I finished high school, had no intentions on
staying there in Oklahoma. Wanted to go back
to the West Coast. Actually despised
the Oklahoma area. It was just so far
behind the times from what I had
growing up, you know, seeing and doing there
in San Francisco. But I went to a junior college
there called Rogers State. Got my associate’s degree
in criminal justice. And then I transferred
to Langston University. So I majored in criminal justice
with a minor in corrections. And I worked full-time
all through college. Like I said, I moved out
when I was 17 years old and kind of been
self-sufficient since then. And I drove a beer truck
for Anheuser-Busch, worked full-time during the day,
and went to college at night. TOM: Were you the first
person in your family to go into law enforcement?
STICKS: I was. Well, I say that, in
my immediate family. My father is originally
from Chicago. And his father, and I
believe an uncle of his, were both Chicago PD people. But primarily, you know,
my family’s military. Like I said, my mother, my
father were both active duty. My brother was active duty. My sister’s been active duty. So you know, our whole
family has kind of been in that service role, I guess. Either that, or we don’t
know how to dress ourselves, so we have to have
a uniform every day. TOM: [laughs] STICKS: You know, we
can’t match colors, so we gotta wear whatever
they provide to us. TOM: Well, what was it
like being a rookie cop in the ’90s when you came on? What year was that? STICKS: I started
in January of 1997. And for me, growing
up in the Bay Area, I would never
trade that you know for what I was able
to see and experience as a teenager and a kid. However, as a father, that
era– you know, I look back on it now, and I’m
like, gosh, I’d hate to have my kids grow
up around what I did. Not necessarily the area, just
kind of that time and what was going on in that era. Because you know, the early,
mid-’90s, that’s when street gangs kind of manifested
into what they are now, from the late ’80s, the crack
cocaine problem that came along with it, and things like that. And so for me, coming on as an
officer still during that time when gang shootings
were very frequent, the drug sales was going
on, and the violence that went along
with that, it was a very, very busy time for me. You know, I mean, I remember
literally the first night I was a rookie officer on my
own, out of field training, it was maybe 25 minutes
before my shift got over, I got in a fight with a
guy over crack cocaine. TOM: On your first night? STICKS: My very
first night, swear. About 25 minutes
left in my shift. I mean, I was at 500
E 56th Street North. That’s, you know, an
area there in Tulsa. And I remember I was
out on a car stop, and just trying
to pat a guy down who was probably twice my age. And it was just one of
those deals that, you know, they call them
pre-attack indicators. You could just
tell hey, this dude isn’t wanting to cooperate. And it turned into
a fight, and it was because he had dope on him. TOM: Did you win?
STICKS: I did. I did, man. And I’ll tell you what– you
know, we see it on the show, also. An officer need call goes out. Whether it’s the officer
himself getting on the radio and saying that, it’s toned
out, or just, you know, you can tell just the
stress in an officer’s voice, how different it is. Sometimes when they
come on the radio and you hear those sirens
coming to you from a distance, it’s honestly the
best feeling there is. And I remember that
that night, and I remember some of the
guys that specifically showed up that night. TOM: So kind of take me
through your first experiences as a rookie, the things
that really stand our or are most memorable. STICKS: Probably one
of the weirdest things I remember, it was
just getting used to having people look at you. Because you know, it just–
TOM: In uniform. STICKS: In uniform, exactly. If you’re a normal person going
to work in your regular car wearing regular clothes,
nobody necessarily pays attention to you. But when you’re
in a marked police car wearing a uniform
sitting at a stoplight, everybody’s looking at you. When you’re getting out to walk
in and get a coffee somewhere, everybody’s staring at you. And so that was just– it took
a while to get used to that. TOM: Yeah, it did for me, too.
STICKS: It does. It’s different. And I mean, it’s not in
a bad way or anything. It’s just people naturally
look at police officers. And so that was
something that was really interesting to get used to. You know, the shift
work was different. When I worked in college
for Anheuser-Busch, I had to be at work at
5:00 in the morning. And as a rookie officer, as
you know and every other– TOM: You caught the night shift. STICKS: You catch the
crappy hours, yeah. Well, it’s bad hours
for family life, great hours to be a policeman.
TOM: Right. And you wanted to work in the
diverse neighborhoods in Tulsa, right?
STICKS: Very much so. You know, Tom, you’ve
gotten to know me, and some other people, they’ve
paid attention to the show. I’ve talked about it. Growing up where I grew
up in the Bay Area, man, I was a hip-hop kid. I mean, I grew up
doing everything that was cool as a fad.
I mean, I did– TOM: Did you break dance?
STICKS: I did break dancing. TOM: What? STICKS: I was gonna say,
I did break dancing. I did skateboarding. I did, you know,
street freestyle on a bicycle, which
by the way, I just bought an adult-size BMX bike. TOM: And he can still
walk on his hands. STICKS: I can still– I can handstand walk, yeah. Hey, man, you gotta
keep it ageless. Keep moving. But so growing up
out there, I mean, I went to Dr. Martin
Luther King Middle School. That was the name
of my middle school there in South San Francisco,
and then my high school was called Fairfield High, which
was a suburb of San Francisco. And I mean, the race stuff
just was not an issue there. That’s the difference between
going up in a city like that, or a large city compared to
some of these smaller areas. And so when I moved
out to Oklahoma, it was a shock to me how
racially and financially segregated parts of Tulsa
were, and especially the suburbs areas around it,
which is where my mom lived. And it was genuine
culture shock to me. You know, guys were
wearing duster jackets, which are those
long cowboy coats, and driving trucks that had– this is not a joke–
driving trucks– these 18-year-olds would have a
rifle up in their back window. TOM: Yeah, yeah. STICKS: And it was
just like, this is– TOM: That’s the other America. That’s not San Francisco. STICKS: Unbelievable. You know, and those are
the funny things I say, but there were also some
of the negative stuff, some of the
derogatory statements I heard about other races. I mean, I was just
like, I can’t believe people literally think
this way or still believe this type of stuff. You know, because of how I grew
up, who I grew up around, what I paid attention to,
to me, it was just, you know, a natural, easy thing
to go into the gang world. It was something
that interested me. Even though I have a
different background than some of the guys I deal
with, obviously, it’s pretty easy for me to relate to
them, to talk to them, anything from music, because I stay on
top of current hip hop music, tattoos, that type of thing. It made it just a real
easy transition for me. TOM: Do you remember
the first time you were really ever scared
on the street in an incident? STICKS: You know– TOM: And maybe not just
scared, but where you knew that I’m in danger here. STICKS: Yeah. The first time I was scared– I’ve talked about it before–
it was actually from a dog. I had a dog that just
came up behind me on an alarm call that literally
scared the crap out of me. You know, just came
up behind me, barked, and I was on this alarm
call at a house at night. I was there by myself. Backing officer
hadn’t got there yet. And you go to a
million bogus alarms. I mean, you go to
them all the time. But this thing
scared me so badly. And when I got back
in my car, my hands were literally shaking. Now, I’ve been in, you know,
foot chases, car chases. I’ve been involved in shootings. I’ve been present with other
officers when they’ve shot, and I haven’t had
that type of reaction. TOM: That chihuahua
scared you that bad. STICKS: Oh, yeah. It was a little bigger
than a chihuahua, buddy. I promise you.
TOM: [laughs] STICKS: So you know, I don’t
know how to explain it. I’ve been very
fortunate that I think I have a calmness to myself. Even when I’m at work. I don’t panic. It’s just one of
those deals that I’m comfortable in what I’m doing. I know myself, my abilities,
that the people that I choose to work around, that
work around me, you know, I feel the same way about them. So I’ve never had this real
scared moment, necessarily. TOM: I know exactly
that feeling. My personality is
very much like yours. STICKS: Correct TOM: When I was out
there, I was always calm, confident in my
abilities, and just able to think my way through things–
STICKS: Yes. TOM: –clearly.
STICKS: Yep.

30 thoughts on “PD Stories Podcast: Sgt. Sticks Larkin on His Early Career | A&E

  1. Live PD/ A&E I see you've been listening to us! And we appreciate all the uploads and more content. Keep it coming!!

  2. Listen!! 👂🏼
    Tulsa is Candy Land compared to Baltimore, DC, Philly, Louis, Chicago etc..
    Let’s be real here. I ❤️’d Tulsa. Why???
    Cuz it’s not Baltimore, DC, Philly etc…🙄

  3. longer podcasts!!!!!!! and i thought with a name like "sticks" he would have been good at catching people who try to run out in "the sticks" haha, his story is much diferent then i had thought. but mad love and support for you Sgt. Larkin

  4. Planning on going into law enforcement and listening to sticks podcast interviews give me a lot of confidence

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