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, Oregon Sub-Station when I received a call of a stolen car on Rogue River Highway. I responded to the complainant’s residence. Upon contacting the complainant and attempting to obtain the necessary information for a report and to get the car entered into the Law Enforcement Computer system the complainant went from giving me information to ranting and raving about, ‘if I had been doing my job this would never happened’, back to giving me information. This continued for some time until I had finally obtained the information I needed.
I began to move around in the driveway of the residence searching for the car’s tracks as well as any tracks or other evidence the suspect may have left behind. Once again the complainant got all fired up and started her verbal rants. Basically, in her opinion, I was wasting time. I should get out there and locate her car before anything serious happens to it.
I told her I’m attempting to locate any and all evidence, so I can hopefully locate her vehicle and/or the person/s who took it. I worked my way down her driveway as she lived on a steep hill above the highway. I noticed in several places the car’s tracks were coming very close to going off the edge of the banked road, but the tracks appeared to be straight. When I got to the black top highway, the tracks (sandy tracks from the driveway stood out on the pavement) went straight across. On the other side of the highway there was another steep bank going down into a pear orchard. I continued following the tracks and they went right off the bank. Shining my flashlight into the orchard I saw her car. I climbed down to it and looked it over. It was obvious she had not set the emergency brake and she had not put the car into park, causing the vehicle to roll down her drive, across the pavement, and off the bank into the orchard. It appeared that the accident had not damaged anything, not even the car itself.
I went back to the residence and contacted the complainant. I explained to her that I had located her vehicle and that she should get her keys and come with me to get her car. She was very surprised and complied. At first she couldn’t understand why we were walking rather than getting into my patrol car. I didn’t speak until we were at the pavement. From there I could shine my light right on her car. She didn’t say anything but she did start to cry. At that point I told her I could not locate any damage to her car or any damage the car might have caused.
I explained there would be no report and suggested she be more careful in securing her car in the future as this could have turned out quite different if anyone had been driving by when this occurred. As I was leaving I told her I needed to get back to work, doing my job.
I cleared with no evidence of a crime and no report.
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.