Assisting The Public “Off Duty”
Editor’s Note: Red is one of the most ethical individuals to have ever worn a badge. Besides, he has some real good stories.
By Red Smith
I was working for the Sheriff’s Office as a criminal investigator assigned to the patrol division. It was a cold, rainy and windy October night. I had just completed swing shift which was 2:45 PM to 11:00 PM. I had been busy, mostly with traffic accidents as a result of the weather and I was cold, tired, and hungry (no chance to stop for any chow). I had already changed out of uniform and was on my way home and it was still raining hard, accompanied by a strong wind.
At the intersection where I normally get on the freeway to begin my trip home I stopped at a signal light and I noticed a pickup truck with no tail or brake lights. This was no night to be without lights! So, I put on my hazards, ran up to the truck and told the lady driver she had no lights and it would be dangerous to continue without them. I then returned to my truck. When the light changed and traffic began to move the lady pulled to the shoulder and stopped. Now, I was cold, wet and shivering again and didn’t really feel like getting out in the rain and wind, but I did.
I discussed her fuses, went to my truck got some of my extra fuses which burned out as soon as I put them in. I went back to my truck retrieved tools and removed her taillights, one after the other. The taillights were extremely corroded and the bulbs were burned out on both sides. I removed the old bulbs, cleaned the corrosion, replaced the bulbs with extra bulbs I carried, and then replaced the fuses again.
We then checked to make sure the lights were working correctly. She told me she was on her way home to Klamath Falls some distance from Medford, and told me she really appreciated me stopping and helping her. She then asked me, “where are all the damned cops when you need them? They should be out here helping people like this instead of writing tickets!”
I asked her to wait for just a minute so I could provide her a couple of extra fuses and bulbs just in case she might need them on the way home. Once back at my truck I took one of my business cards and wrote on the back, ‘Please drive carefully and have safe trip home.’ I returned to my truck and watched her, waiting for her to pull into traffic. She looked at the card, hung her head for a moment and drove away.
About Me: My name is William Holden Smith, but most people know me as Red Smith. I think communication is the most important tool any person can have and especially a police officer. I’m retired from the Sheriff’s Office after being a reserve for years and then twenty-eight years full-time. In retirement, I drove armored truck, worked for three different Municipal Police Departments and a Constable’s Office. Now I’m trying the retirement thing again. Fair warning though, I like to stay busy.