An Arkansas police officer recently received national recognition for his nearly 60 years of law enforcement service in Ouachita County.
Last week, NBC Tonight with Lester Holt featured Camden Police Officer LC “Buckshot” Smith, who was honored by the city on May 15 for his 92nd birthday.
The celebration on the Saturday after her birthday was hosted by her daughter with help from Camden officials. Smith was the guest of honor at a parade-style festival through the streets of Camden, one of the city’s first events since the pandemic ended most large rally activity in March 2020.
Earlier this year, CNN also aired a story on Smith.
Smith is happy to have his years of police service recognized.
“It’s good,” he said. “I appreciate everything. I never thought it would come to this, but I appreciate it.”
Smith said he wanted to serve the community to some extent since he was young, which prompted him to become a law enforcement officer.
“I wanted to be a police or firefighter when I was little, and I always love the excitement,” Smith said. “And I always knew the police or the fire department were always excited.”
Smith volunteered with the Camden Police Department in 1953 and became a full-time law enforcement officer in 1962 with the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office.
He has held numerous law enforcement positions over the years, he said.
“I patrolled for 25 years, and I moved on to directing,” he said. “I had different jobs. I was head jailer, jailer administrator, supervisor, and I was responsible for whatever they wanted to do.”
Smith was a supervisor in the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office when a young Boyd Woody was hired as a jailer. Woody is now the Police Chief of the Camden Police Department.
Woody said the experience he gained from working with Smith is invaluable.
“We’ve stayed together for a bit for the past 30 years,” said Woody. “He’s more than just an officer. He’s a dear friend of mine.”
Smith began working for the police department after retiring from the sheriff’s office in 2011.
He does not occupy a purely administrative function. He also patrols the streets, escorts school buses and funerals, and makes some traffic stops.
Many grieving families are asking Smith to escort their funeral processions, said Rachel Osinuga, an apprentice at Reddick Funeral Home.
“Several times they have asked Buckshot to be their escort,” Osinuga said. “Sometimes if we prepare and don’t have an official escort, he’ll just step in.”
Smith became a celebrity in his hometown. Recently, he said, he stopped a driver who blew through a stop sign. The woman recognized him and shouted “Buckshot! He laughs.
“Everyone I stop knows me,” Smith said.
Around Camden, people often see Smith patrolling his unmarked 2013 Ford Taurus and wave to him. Mike Sherman, manager of Ken’s Discount Hardware Store, said Smith has become a prominent figure in the county.
“When people joke and say, ‘You’re going to be in trouble because he knows your mother,’ Buckshot knows your mother, your grandmother, your great-grandmother. He knows them all,” Sherman said. “He’s met them all because he’s been doing this for a long time.”
He’s been known as “Buckshot” since he was a teenager when the manager of the gas station he works at started calling him that and it stuck. Now the name is on his police department badge and business cards.
Currently, Smith is the department’s neighborhood watch coordinator. He meets with community members and organizes watch groups, says Woody.
“Because of his age and his tenure here in Camden he is just very well liked,” said Woody. “It’s easy for people to approach him and talk to him, and then he can come and talk to me and share issues.”
Woody said it was refreshing to see a police officer get the spotlight for a positive reason.
“In the world we live in now and how beaten the police nationally, it’s a good thing to see Mr. Smith being praised instead of shot,” Woody said. “I would rather be known to have a working officer for over 50 years with an exceptional career than some of the other cases in the world.”
When asked when he planned to end his work with the police, Smith replied “When the good Lord takes me.”
“I like helping people,” he said. “I took more people to houses than I took people to jail. I like helping people.”
Smith summed up his service as being fair to the community.
“I think I was fair to everyone,” Smith said. “I like to say that this badge and that gun don’t make a cop. You have to have it in your heart to do the job and make a good cop. [officer]. “