I became a police officer just after I turned 32. I mention this because I thought I was “too old” to be a cop. My firefighter wife, whose father was a cop for 36 years, gave me some advice. She said, “let them decline you; don’t you decline them.” Great advice, as I went on to a career with over 20 years as a police officer.
At my state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission (police academy), I quickly learned I wasn’t “too old,” not even close. I was smack in the middle of the ages represented in our class of 30 recruits. As it worked out, our oldest recruit was 60, give or take. The mayor had appointed him police chief of his small rural town’s police department. To his great credit, because he was not required to, he wanted to be “fully qualified” to lead other officers by graduating from the police academy as they had. And he did that in fine form.
So, imagine my astonishment when I found out that even 60-years-old is a relatively young officer after learning about an exceptional active-duty cop, 92-year-old Officer L.C. “Buckshot” Smith, serving in the Camden Police Department (CPD), in Camden, Arkansas. Buckshot is a nickname Smith says he’s had since he was 14. The Nonagenarian is believed to be the oldest working police officer in the United States.
Jenni Julander at the Epoch Times reported, “A 91-year-old [recently turned 92] Arkansas police officer is inspiring those around him with his upbeat work ethic and attitude of loving others.” Officer Smith had previously served 46 years as an Ouachita County Sheriff’s Deputy. His retirement from that agency lasted only four months. That’s when Smith was sworn into the CPD, where he has continued his law enforcement career.
Officer Smith told THV-11 News, “I feel like, I live longer at my age to keep on working.” When asked when he plans to retire, Officer Smith said, “When the good Lord says so.” He says his motivation is his love of helping people. A long-time friend commented about people who say about someone, “They know everybody.” He said, in the uber-veteran cop’s case, “Buckshot know everybody.” [emphasis mine]
Tulsa Police Department Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin, the host of Law & Crime’s podcast, Coptales, interviewed Officer Smith on his 92nd birthday. The Camden cop told Larkin, “I wanted to be a police officer so bad I [would have] taken the job working for free.” He said he worked football, baseball, and softball games, and other special events.
Accompanying the Epoch Times story is a framed photograph of Officer Smith, back in his younger days, handsome and full of pride, in his crisp deputy sheriff uniform. “Buckshot’s” advice to new police officers: “Wave at people… be polite.” He added, “This gun, and this badge, don’t make no police officer.”
“Wave at [people]… be polite,” the 92-year-old said. “This gun and this badge don’t make no police officer.”
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) May 24, 2021
Buckshot’s spot on. The gun is necessary as a last resort tool for police officers to protect themselves and the community. The badge is an important symbol of the unique authority which communities entrust in their law enforcement officers. But nothing replaces an officer’s most important tools: critical thinking, mental agility, knowledge, preparedness, integrity, and compassion. Officer Smith seems to have lived that reality for over half a century as a cop.
About retirement, Officer Smith told Sgt. Larkin, “I don’t run around, I don’t hunt, I don’t fish, I wouldn’t have nothing to do.” This old cop is not only an inspiration to other cops of any age, and he is an inspiration to anyone who wants to make the most of one’s life. And there is no doubt, Officer L.C. “Buckshot” Smith has made the most of his life… and he continues to do so.