The frame around his police motorcycle license plate read, "One more ticket and I get the microwave." Billy Jack never got his microwave, but in three years with City of Carlsbad Police Department, he won hundreds of friends.
Nearly 1,200 people, including more than 600 uniformed officers, gathered at Carlsbad Community Church to say farewell to William "Billy" Robert Jack. The 30-year-old traffic officer, known to his colleagues as Billy Jack and "Billy the Kid," died Sept. 1, 1991, of head injuries after being thrown from his motorcycle while on duty. He had been directing traffic after a Labor Day weekend concert when he lost control of his motorcycle, hit a center divider and crashed.
The joke on his license plate was typical of Jack's sense of humor, friends said, but hardly reflected his serious dedication to his job. Police Chief Bob Vales didn't sanction the microwave joke when he discovered it, but he decided to risk offending citizens and let Jack keep it. "I'm glad I did," Vales said during the funeral service. "When I had the Billy Jacks of the world working for me, my job was a lot easier."
Kids loved Jack, Vales said, and Jack loved playing the part of crime-fighting dog McGruff, running a bicycle safety class, and taking time to meet children around the city.
Jack was born in San Jose on Feb. 28, 1961, and graduated from high school in Falmouth, Mass. in 1979. He worked for the Orange County Sheriff's Department before joining the department in 1988, where he was assigned to its traffic division in April. He was engaged to marry Tina Cunniff of Oceanside, Calif.
Jack is survived by his mother, Annine Jack, of Oceanside; father, Kenneth Jack, of Escondido; brothers Curtis Jack of Oceanside and Douglas Jack, of Lake Buena Vista, Florida; and grandparents Mr. and Mrs. James H. Jack of Southbury, Connecticut.