CAMDEN, Ark. – Imagine yourself 93 years old. What do you see yourself doing? 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 in Germany.
But the time has come to move on to other things and he is retiring Friday after an almost 65-year career.
Every step of Buckshot’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,” Buckshot said.
Buckshot started at the Camden Police Department, and he said at first, he worked for free. Eventually, Buckshot transitioned to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office where he retired at age 81, but that only lasted a few months when the Camden police chief asked for him to come back.
“They said I had too much knowledge, history, and understanding to let it die,” Buckshot said.
Buckshot now works under Police Chief Boyd M. Woody, a man Buckshot first hired when he was a jail administrator decades ago. Under the familiar badge, Buckshot 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 out to do,” Buckshot expressed.
On the last full day of his career, Buckshot wanted to show us the town and the people he’s protected for generations.
Our first stop was Woods Place. The packed restaurant was full of people Buckshot 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, we met 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 Buckshot 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, Buckshot spent his last days in office mentoring younger officers and much younger officers.
“What kept you going when could have, you know, gave it up a long time ago?”, Camden police officer Johnathan Cooper asked.
“I love it,” Buckshot replied.
Buckshot always said he wouldn’t retire until the good lord took him or told him to retire. He told him a few weeks ago after a fall, injuring his leg and hip a couple years ago, caught up to him.
“I woke up. I couldn’t walk. That’s when I made the decision to retire,” Buckshot admitted.
On his last patrol, the truth that he’ll miss it was written on his face with two thin blue lines.
“I helped a lot of peoples,” Buckshot said. “That means a lot. You’ve got to know the people.”
A retirement celebration for Buckshot will be held Friday at 1:00 P.M. inside the Camden Business and Technology Development Center. This celebration is open to the public at 625 S Adams Ave. SE, Camden, Arkansas 71701.
If you are curious what Buckshot will be up to after retirement, he shared that he plans to fish and hunt, adding he has not gone fishing in around 50 years.
Buckshot will be turning 94 on May 12. He shared one secret on how to live a long healthy life. He said, “Eat a lot of vegetables, and don’t eat too much fast food.”