Special Report: 90-year-old Camden Police officer dedicates life to serving others

Special Reports

CAMDEN, Ark.- A police officer will soon turn 91 years old.

Leonard Charles Smith, also known as Buckshot, is still on the force and works fulltime.

From the minute he wakes up to the second he goes to sleep, Buckshot dedicates his life to serving the people in Camden by working several jobs.

“Everybody that I have ever met knows Buckshot,” says Camden Police Chief Boyd Woody.

Buckshot is a nickname given to Leonard Charles Smith when he was just a teenager and it stuck.

Buckshot has been an influential part of the Camden community for nearly a century.

While driving around town in his police cruiser, his feelings toward this town are clear.

“I love it,” says Buckshot. “I always wanted to be a fireman or police. I like excitement.”

Buckshot’s career began at the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, which is where he met his current police chief 30 years ago.

“I was a jailer when I started, and he was my supervisor and over the years, we continued to work in the same field,” Buckshot recalls. “I just worked myself on up.”

Buckshot worked in Ouachita County for 46 years before retiring in 2010. His retirement didn’t last long. After five months, he decided to join the Camden Police Department in 2011.

“So, I think it does me good to keep working,” Buckshot says. “My doctor tells me, ‘If you keep working, you feel like going to work, get up and go.”

Life-long friend and department dispatcher Loraine Gilmore says she believes his dedication to work is what keeps him young.

“He is always on the go,” Gilmore says. “He’s doing something, he’s doing funeral escort or just in the community.”

This hat isn’t the only one Buckshot wears, he has nearly a dozen other jobs.

“The assistant coroner for Ouachita County,” Chief Woody says.

“Vice chairman of the deacon board,” Buckshot says.

“He does all the funeral escorts for the city of Camden,” Woody says.

“He’s a busy man,” Gilmore says.

Each job more important than the last, and Buckshot never forgets his crazy schedule. If he did, he says some kids might miss school.

“I wake up a lot of kids in the morning when I’m doing my school bussing,” Buckshot says. “They’ll be in the house, and I toot my horn, and they’ll come out.”

Before going to work at the police department, Buckshot patrols the bus stops and helps with bus routes.

“We were having to send a car, a unit to break up a fight every morning, at least two or three units a week,” Buckshot recalls. “But since I have been doing it, I’ve had one, one fight.”

Police Chief Woody says patrolling the bus stops is not a job requirement, but like many things Buckshot does, it’s because he wants to, and that’s what makes him stand out.

“I tell everybody this story and it’s as true as can be,” Woody says. “Three or four years ago, we had a snowstorm here in Camden, and he lives a mile or so from the department. We were snowed in and I had employees calling in sick, he wanted to work.”

The desire to work is something Woody says will be hard to replace once Buckshot does retire, which is a day many are not ready for.

“He will be one of the hardest employees I will have to replace,” Chief Woody says. “There will never be anybody that has the dedication he has.”

“Hopefully, I’ll be done before he will,” Gilmore says.

“You hope to retire before him?” Fox16’s Haylee Brooks asks.

“Uh-huh! Yes!” Gilmore replies.

Luckily, Buckshot says he’s not ready to put his badge away yet.

“How much longer do you want to keep working?” Fox16’s Haylee Brooks asks.

“Until the good Lord says so,” Buckshot replies.

His nearly six decades of law enforcement experience, he’s not ready to walk out on just yet.

Buckshot did share his secret to living a long life. He says he doesn’t eat any fast food. He is now looking forward to celebrating his 91st birthday in May.

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