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This past Saturday evening, friends, family, citizens, and fellow cops held a retirement bash for Lt. Michael Smith. The event was held at the Reagan Building. The man worked the beat for nearly 30 years. The invite read:
“In honor of Lt. Smith’s retirement to a warmer and sunnier climate, scuba diving, and his wife’s fondness for the occasional fruity umbrella-laden beverage, we’re having a tropical themed retierment party… so don your favorite hawaiian shirt or tropical gear and prepare for a night of dancing, food, friends, and fun – all to celebrate our one and only Lt. Smith!”
The man was one of the hardest working cops we knew. The least we could have done was not be so snobby and accept this theme and put on a tropical shirt. Unfortunately, apologies to the organizers, we do not own any beach wear. Thankfully we were allowed to attend the event, and mingle with a District Court judge (!), police officials, an ANC Commissioner, and a retired police chief (!), among others.
Lt. Smith has long been a fixture in Columbia Heights, Shaw and other neighborhoods. He lived where he patrolled. Most residents know he did very little outside his police duties (except for tons of charity work).
Smith seemed to us like a human perp vacuum. He was also a good source. He was always available for advice on a story and to offer a sweet tip or three. We wrote about him/detail his exploits/or quote him expert-style here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here…. well, you get the idea. The stories date from 1995 to the present. He became more of a fixture in our lives and the lives of residents when he got a cellphone and a laptop. He was terrific on e-mail; residents talk a lot about calling his cell before they’d get around to calling 911.
How many cops are more reliable than 911?
Smith says he has broken too many bones to count. He’s also broken a rule or three. He was no friend to cop brass. I recall interviewing a now-retired detective who told me that at one point he made it his mission to fire Lt. Smith.
Of course, Smith prevailed. He was greeted Saturday night by a room full of grateful citizens and some Jimmy Buffett. Not a terrible way to go out.
Asst. Chief Diane Groomes was on hand to give the man a few plaques. His disciplinary file has now become legendary.
We filmed some of the pomp and managed to get Lt. Smith on record one last time. Watch:
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Trouble viewing? Try the YouTube version.