When you hear the term "police artist", you probably think of a sketch of a crime suspect and the subject material is decidedly unpleasant, but Broken Arrow Police Sergeant Al Cross paints a whole other picture of a "police artist".
News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says Al Cross first started drawing in the 8th grade and just as quickly stopped. â€œI had an 8th grade teacher who said I couldn't draw flies, so I quit." It wasn't until many years later that his wife nudged the officer into taking another shot at it. "I never picked up a pencil from the 8th grade to 1990 and the 8th grade was a long time ago.â€
So Al enrolled in the art class at Platt College where he was the oldest student. "By far, by far, yes." The police chief at the time wanted a birthday card with a police theme, but couldn't find one he liked, so he asked Al if he could draw one.
Al liked Norman Rockwell growing up and uses the same sort of style. He likes colored pencils best. As you might expect, the blue one wears down faster than the others.
Some of themes are amusing. Some are poignant. He says a favorite of many officers is one of a policeman tucking in one of his children before he heads out for his night shift. "A lot of funny things that will happen, y'know a lot of the officers, they give me the ideas for the cards."
It's a welcome change from his job in the Broken Arrow Police Crime Lab, which as you can imagine, tends to be a little grim. "It's a release, it's an escape. And it gets me away from all the crime scenes that I've gone too, and all the pictures that I've taken over the years and all the fingerprint cases I've got sitting' on my desk." This probably leaves a more positive mark.
Just to make sure you don't get the wrong idea, Sgt. Cross wanted the News on 6 to be sure to mention he doesn't do his drawing while he's at work.