Main Content

A Fond Farewell to Sgt. Smedley

We knew the end was coming, but it was too fast when it did. One day on vacation, the next a December 8th official promotion at Parker Center and, finally, cleaning out his desk at Pacific to ride into the sunset away from the beach to be a sergeant at the Southwest division of the LAPD.
Venice has been a special place to Gerry Smedley. He grew up here attending Broadway Elementary and Mark Twain Junior High schools. He spent 21 of his almost 23 years on the job with the LAPD at Pacific Area Community Police Station, 12 years as the Senior Lead Officer for Oakwood.

The 60s of Gerry´s youth was a more innocent time in Venice. “Oakwood (Recreation Center) had a real good sports program for the kids,” he remembers. “You had families going to the park. They´d line up from Broadway all the way down to California Ave. to see their kids playing Little League baseball. You don´t see it now, primarily because of kids getting involved in drugs, then gangs. It ruined that atmosphere. Parents stopped letting their kids come to the park. Now, some of the folks who are still in the community are trying to get the drugs away from the park so the kids can come back and have productive programs. The programs are there, they just don´t have enough participation.”

Crime is down in Oakwood. “We´ve targeted what needs to be done, which is primarily narcotics and gangs,” says Gerry. “Fifteen years ago we had narcotics and we still have it. But, is it the same as it was 10 – 15 years ago? I would have to tell you, no, it isn´t. It´s totally changed because there have been more arrests.”

Involvement of the community has helped cut down on drugs and gangs. “Instead of just closing your eyes, you´re calling it in,” says Gerry. An “incident” is created every time a person calls 877-ASK-LAPD. A “multiple calls” report is issued every month to identify problems needing action.
Gerry wants to see more people get involved with community-based policing. “The good people tend to shut down because things aren´t affecting them directly, but, in an indirect way it does because you are still in the community,” he says. “You get up, you see the problems. You come home from work, you see the problems. Yet, some people don´t speak out because the problem is not on their property.”

It´s the quality of life issues where the community can really be of help to our police officers. “Like the chief put it, 75/25 – 75% on the community, 25% on the police department,” says Gerry. “We´ll take care of your crime while you guys take care of the other. It´s the quality of life issues that are happening right now – big time. So once we get that under control, the crime rate will probably change. Who says the police have to come out for graffiti or trash in the alley? A lot of stuff I´ve been doing for years I call in instead of taking time to address criminal activities.”

“For me it´s kind of touched home to get all these things cleaned up because when I was a kid you didn´t see all this filth or crud around,” says Gerry. “Sure we had problems, but they weren´t like this. What a police officer had to do wasn´t overwhelming like it is today. So now, it´s like, ok public, you can get involved. We don´t have a big police department. Police deal with crime. Public deals with quality of life issues.” It´s easy. Have a burnt out street light or graffiti on your garage or shopping carts in the street? Just call 311, the Los Angeles city-wide directory of services, and you will be connected to the right department to resolve your issue.

The future looks bright for Oakwood. “People have moved out and a great number of people have moved into the community and are trying to turn it around,” says Gerry. “It´s going to take a few more years but I can foresee that happening in the next five years or so. It´s going to make a complete flip flop. It´s going to be a lot harder for people to come into Oakwood to buy drugs because you won´t have as many people there dealing. That´s how I see it. If we keep hitting them harder and harder, no body will come.”

There have been many good experiences along with a few bad ones for Gerry. “It´s been a hell of a party,” he says. “Twenty-one years of working in Venice and coming back to the community where I grew up as a kid. It´s where I got my start in life. Venice is a special place for me. It always will be.” Will Gerry come back to Venice to work? According to police department procedure he has to have another assignment for up to two years. “We´ll see what happens,” he says. “If I do come back, I´ll just consider it more gravy on the potatoes.”

Because of Gerry´s quick departure, the community did not have an opportunity to give him a proper send off and to thank him for his years of serving and protecting. He truly meant a great deal to the community and we have a few people to tell you so.

… Thank you, Gerry for being there for us. From community clean ups to the most serious police work you could count on Gerry´s help. He is like a member of our family. He cares about your feelings and concerns. He is always there with words of encouragement when you feel like giving up. He is more than a police officer. He is a good person with a kind heart. He cares for the people who live here. His priorities were the needs of this community. He never compromised them. Congratulations Sgt. Smedley. This is the beginning of great things to come.
Bill, Virginia and Brandon Channels

… What a guy! I´ve lived in Venice for almost 40 years and have not met even a handful of police officers who truly cared about the people who live here. Gerry is the best, probably because he grew up in Venice and actually understands and appreciates this community. A couple of years ago, VCHC gave Gerry a “Community Hero” award and he well deserved that honorific. It is bad policy and a great shame that the LAPD transfers to other Divisions the officers they promote. Venice has lost a great cop and a good friend. I only hope that someday Gerry rotates back to Pacific Division – maybe as Captain Smedley?
Steve Clare, Executive Director, Venice Housing Community Corp.

… Officer Gerry Smedley, Senior Lead Officer of the Pacific Area Los Angeles Police Department. Right person, right position, right purpose. As Pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church of Venice for 19 years, it is indeed an honor to have such a person work diligently and integrative in the Oakwood community. Officer Smedley was highly respected by all in the Oakwood area. As an African- American police officer he has given many hope in the LAPD. Our young see Officer Smedley as someone they can look up to. Our community suffers with gangs, drugs and homelessness. Officer Smedley was concerned not only with criminal activities, but community activities. He introduced to our community the DARE program, the Explorers, the Police Clergy Counsel and attended every town hall meeting. We congratulate Southwest. He will be truly missed. We prayed for him when he was shot in the line of duty in the city of Marina del Rey. Officer Smedley is welcomed, received and accepted by all races.
Marvis L. Davis Sr., Pastor/Teacher, New Bethel Baptist Church

… I met Gerry 7 years ago when I was the Director of Oakwood Recreation Center. I consider him the role model of what community policing should be. Whether it was coming to speak at our events, his weekly visits to the park or when we called him about a specific problem, he always responded to our needs.
Robert Haskin, Director, Oakwood Recreation Park 1998 to 2005

… Back in the post ’92 riot months, Gerry was appointed the position as SLO for Oakwood / Milwood instead of Westchester probably because he originally grew up in Oakwood (7th & Brooks) and because he was a black officer. He never grimaced at his appointment; he went out and tried to do the best job possible with the tools given to him. He has the respect of a majority of the community, his peers and I suspect many that he arrested. He has put in many hours for years at endless meetings for community groups and organizations. His methodical style showed in his cool and calm demeanor on the street and during meetings sometimes taking the brunt of verbal abuse. He has done well at maintaining his sense of humor through all of this. His presence in the community will be sorely missed. I will miss his occasional drives down my alley with stops to say hi. The community has come a long way in the almost 13 years of his presence and will be a better place from time and effort he has contributed. The community should put together a plaque in appreciation of all of his hard work.
Dru Lewis

… Gerry Smedley created a better environment when it comes to police and community. He was a model officer. He understood the relationship between law enforcement and community. I hope that whoever comes behind him can come with that gift or develop that gift because it very important for law enforcement to understand community. I would hope that whoever takes his place is community sensitive like he was. If not, we have to have a debriefing with that individual. Or you have to have in you – like Smedley was a natural. Hopefully they´ve identified someone who has that natural ability to be community sensitive.
Stan Mohammad, Executive Director, Venice 2000 and District 3 (Oakwood) representative to the Neighborhood Council

… Gerry Smedley is a very professional person. But he is really a kind person and he cares about the community. He grew up here in Venice. He takes the good with the bad. He treats you with respect even though you´ve done something wrong. He doesn´t try to over power you with his authority. He´s been very, very helpful to the parents and grandparents of children who are on the opposite side of where we want them to be. He takes the parents and grandparents and shows them a lot of love and sympathy about their problem children. I think that this is one thing that the community really appreciates about him. I think that there are some officers in Pacific, because your child did this or did that, they look at you like you´re nothing. Smedley is not like that. He is a very, very kind person and he is very, very considerate of the senior citizens here in Venice.
Rina Rhodes (resident since 1936)

… Gerry Smedley is the best officer that I have had the pleasure of growing up with. He grew up in Venice and he knew the community and appreciated it always. Gerry never let the daily politics of Venice keep him from showing his love and respect for the place that he grew up and now worked in. We are truly losing a dedicated police officer and I want to wish him well. Keep Venice in your heart because we will forever keep you in ours.
Laddie Williams