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 swing shift out of the Gold Hill Sub-Station and was in the Wimer area when I heard the Rogue River Police duty officer dispatched to a pizza parlor to deal with a white male adult who was being disorderly and possibly intoxicated.
Thinking the officer may need a cover unit, I responded. Upon my arrival, I saw the officer by his car to my left near the entrance of the pizza parlor and the police chief standing right in front of the obviously intoxicated male, who was standing on the sidewalk right in front of the pizza parlor entrance. I was behind the police chief but further away than his officer.
The drunk was loudly and profanely refusing to allow the police to look in his truck for a gun with which he was accused of threatening people inside the pizza parlor. He told the police chief to take off his badge and gun and he would whip his ass, over and over again. After about twenty minutes, the chief told his officer to keep watch on the guy while he contacted the pizza parlor manager inside.
The drunk, with tunnel vision like most drunks, saw me and approached. He started telling me all the same things he’d been telling the chief and I stood there and didn’t say a word. After awhile he started running out of gas and asked me if I had anything to say. I told him I was trying to be polite and respectful and let him have his say.
When he didn’t say anything I asked him if he was man enough and could be respectful like me and listen to what I had to say. He said, “yes I can.” I told him he might be tough enough to whip the chief, but the chief was the fleet boxing champion in the Navy prior to becoming the chief. And, that if he whipped the chief he would then have to whip his officer and if he was able to do that he’d have to whip me. I told him, ‘Giving you the benefit of doubt and say you whip all three of us. Then they will issue warrants and they will send six. Again for the sake of argument you whip those six. The next time they will send 12, then 24, then 48, then 56. Sooner or later in all this whipping you plan on doing you’re going to hurt someone and then they will send more people with guns and you will end up in one of two places, in prison or in the ground. Now I’m not trying to threaten you. I’m trying to provide you with helpful information so you can make an educated decision in your own best interest so think about it.’
When the chief returned, the drunk walked up to him and told him, “Here’s the keys to my truck. Look all you want. If you want to arrest me, go ahead whatever you want, I’ll do.” The chief took the keys looked in the truck to find a rusted piece of a rifle unable to function, sent the guy to a motel for the night and asked me if I had threatened the drunk. I told him no, just provided some helpful information and with that he made what I considered to be a good decision.
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.