Police Officer Richard Wellington Smith

Police Officer Richard Wellington Smith

Tulare Police Department, California

End of Watch Saturday, January 11, 1947

Richard Wellington Smith

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.


  • Age 29
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

View all 8 Reflections

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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