CAMDEN, Ark. (KARK) – What do you see yourself doing at 93 years old? If you thought you’d still be working, you have a lot in common with L.C. “Buckshot” Smith.
The Camden Police officer is known as Arkansas’ oldest law enforcement officer, and he’s made the news nationally and even internationally.
But the time has come to move on to other things, so he is retiring Friday after an almost 65-year career.
Every step of Smith’s life has been a work of passion. Jobs in furniture sales, a funeral home, and a service station kept him busy until 30 years old, when he unlocked the door to something he thought he could do forever.
“Helping people. I saw a lot of things in my lifetime. I wanted to be a policeman,” he said.
Smith started out at the Camden Police Department, and at first, he said, he worked for free. Eventually, he transitioned to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, where he retired at age 81, but that only lasted a few months. The Camden police chief asked him to come back.
“They said I had too much knowledge, history, and understanding to let it die,” Smith said.
He now works under Police Chief Boyd M. Woody, a man Smith first hired when he was a jail administrator decades ago. Under the familiar badge, Smith was given a new position as neighborhood watch coordinator. You could say that is his lifelong expertise.
“Just roll around and talk to people. Make friends. I see a person out in their yard, and I stop and talk to them. That’s what all police ought to do,” Smith expressed.
On the last full day of his career, Smith wanted to show KARK the town and the people he’s protected for generations.
Our first stop was Woods Place. The packed restaurant was full of people Smith greeted. Many congratulated him on his retirement.
“He loves people. He’s a great asset to the city of Camden,” Mayor Charlotte Young said when we met her.
In downtown Camden, he met up with Don Banks inside Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Pawn Shop.
“We go so far back Snoopy was a puppy,” Banks said with a laugh.
Banks said Smith used to find people who skipped payments when he sold items on credit. “But I know for a fact Buckshot has taken more people home than he’s taken to jail,” Banks said.
Between patrols and escorting bus routes or funeral processions, Smith spent his last days in office mentoring younger officers.
“What kept you going when you could have, you know, gave it up a long time ago?” Camden police officer Johnathan Cooper asked.
“I love it,” Smith replied.
Smith always said he wouldn’t retire until the good Lord took him or told him to retire. He said the Lord told him to a few weeks ago, a couple of years after a fall that injured his leg and hip and finally caught up to him.
“I woke up. I couldn’t walk. That’s when I made the decision to retire,” Smith admitted.
On his last patrol, the truth that he will miss it was written on his face.
“I helped a lot of people,” Smith said. “That means a lot. You’ve got to know the people.”
Smith said that after retirement, he plans to fish and hunt, adding that he has not gone fishing in around 50 years.
Smith will be turning 94 on May 12. He shared his secret on how to live a long healthy life.
“Eat a lot of vegetables, and don’t eat too much fast food,” he said.