Oklahoma City Police Officer Buries Himself In Jazz

Thursday, June 16th 2011, 12:00 am
By: News 9

Jacqueline Sit, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- He wears a badge by day and plays the piano by night. This Oklahoma City police officer has a talent he never thought existed until a serious accident that changed his life

Inside the historic Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City, the sound of smooth jazz echoes from a brightly colored piano that's hard to miss. It's where you will often find officer Justin Echols.

"It's a classy, romantic environment," Echols says.

He is a ten-year Oklahoma City Police veteran, but music wasn't always a part of him. Echols was dedicated to a life in law enforcement. Besides being a police officer he was in the army reserve until an accident changed his world.

"The accident was a head-on collision stateside that left me with permanent physical limitations to my spine," he says.

Echol's depression grew after the accident so he took a seat at the piano to keep his mind from the pain and his loss.

"I can't lift weights anymore, can't run anymore, can't do all that stuff plus I'm dealing with the challenge with my physical appearance and the only thing I can do is bury myself into the instrument and try to find some peace of mind there and that's exactly what I did," Echols says.

"Jazz became my way of dealing with my issues."

Echols has played jazz across the country and around the world. His hope is to share what saved him with the Sooner State.

"I want to believe we're in the beginning of the revitalization of live jazz in Oklahoma City. Until the day that I die, I will be working to see live jazz is accessible to the people of Oklahoma."

Starting in July, Echols will pursue that mission every week inside the Skirvin Hotel.