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Archiver > RIGGS > 1997-10 > 0877890429

From: Don Holden <>
Subject: Clinton E. Riggs, Tulsa, OK
Date: Sun, 26 Oct 1997 18:27:09 +0000

A former law officer noted for creating the world's first "YIELD
RIGHT-of-WAY" sign died Thursday.
Clinton E. Riggs was 86.
Services held at First Christian Church, Tulsa, OK under direction of
Moore's Memory Funeral Home.
Riggs served in the Tulsa Police Department from 1934 to 1937 before joining
the Oklahoma Highway Patrol as one of the original troopers. After Air
Corps service during World War II, Riggs rejoined the TPD in 1945 and rose
to the rank of administrative assistant chief, retiring in 1970.
After retirement, Riggs taught at the University of Tulsa and Tulsa Junior
Born July 15, 1910 in Fairview, Riggs graduated from Tulsa Central High
School in 1929. He graduated from the University of Tulsa law school in 1954.
He is credited with many innovations during his tenure as a law enforcement
officer. However, none of them has surpassed the fame of his "Yield
Right-of Way" sign.
The first two signs were installed in Tulsa in 1950 at First Street and
Columbia Ave. The original signs were keystone shaped and were painted
yellow with black lettering.
Riggs' son, Thomas Riggs, cherishes one of the original signs as a prized
possesion. One of the early manufactured signs is on display at the
Smithsonian Institution.
Riggs apparently conceived the idea of the sign while working as a trooper.
He began developing it while attending Chicago's Northwestern Traffic
Institute in 1939.
He experimented with the concept for more than a decade, striving to create
a sign that would not only control traffic at an intersection but that also
would affix civil liability in a collision in which one driver failed to
yield, according to the Tulsa Police Department's history book.
According to newspaper reports, one of the first signs installed reduced the
ranking of the most-dangerous intersection in the city to the seventh-most
dangerous in 12 months. Requests for the signs soon began pouring in from
around the country.
The official shoulder patch of the Tulsa Police Department was created in
the shape of the original yield sign. The colors are reversed, with the
yellow letters on a black background. Riggs is also credited with designing
the badge worn by Tulsa officers since 1952.
He is also considered the driving force behind the creation of the Tulsa
Police Adacemy, and he is credited with creating a police pension plan,
approving a uniform and equipment allowance and establishing a university
degree requirement for new officers.
But Riggs' son said it was his father's compassion for common people that
made the family the proudest.
Tom Riggs said his father and his partner were the only people who atttended
the funeral of a slain child who was never identified and whose family was
never located.
No one else was there", Tom Riggs said. "The thought of that child being
buried with no one there, my father could not tolerate."
On another occasion Riggs spoke at the funeral of a con man he had arrested
many times.
"My father was one of the more unusual men I have ever met in my life," Tom
Riggs said. "He was a true Renaissance man."
Riggs wrote handbooks, which include the "Law of Arrest for Police Officers"
and "The Police Officer Witness." He also is the author of the Oklahoma
law--which bears his name--that prohibits convicted felons from carrying
The Uniform Division Southwest, 7515 S. Riverside Drive, was renamed the
Clinton Riggs Police Station South in his honor in 1993.
This was in the Tulsa World, Tulsa, OK in the past few months. I have lost
the date, but it was in the past few months. Thought someone might be
interested. I do not know anything more about the family. Wynelle Chaney Holden

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