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Police Officer Richard Wellington Smith | Tulare Police Department, California Tulare Police Department, California

Police Officer

Richard Wellington Smith

Tulare Police Department, California

End of Watch: Saturday, January 11, 1947

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 29

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Gun; Unknown type

Offender: Not available

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Officer Smith was shot and killed while he and other officers searched for a suspect in the basement of a hotel. The suspect was wanted for failing to appear in court for assaulting his girlfriend with a knife. The suspect was hiding in a storeroom and saw Officer Smith through a crack in the wall. The man opened fire through a wooden partition, fatally wounding Officer Smith.

In 1978 a street was named Richard Smith Street in honor of Officer Smith. Officer Smith was survived by his wife and mother.

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Most Recent Reflection

Twenty-nine years old. He hadn't even had a chance to live life. A terrible scenario there in that basement. Thankfully, we have better tools at our disposal today for a situation such as that. If they'd had K-9's back in the 40's that officer would never have been murdered.

I am glad there are two accounts of officers giving their lives for the citizens of Tulare, not 22. Looking to my right I see a scary statistic and I expect it to get worse considering the number of felons being released onto our streets. I believe that being a peace officer working the streets IS THE MOST DANGEROUS BEAT IN THIS STATE (or any state). There's nobody in tower with a rifle watching a street cop's back, no easy way to lock down people and a street officer seldom knows the criminal history of those persons with whom he/she comes into contact. Is the driver a family man or a felon with two strikes? Street cops never have that information ahead of time.

Terry Davis, M.Ed., Coordinator AOJ
West Hills College / ex-VPD
April 26, 2013


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