By Ed Martin, Editor
Former Lemoore Chief of Police Darrell Smith with Kings County's top Law enforcement officials during Friday night's gathering at the Lemoore Civic Auditorium.
Former Lemoore Chief of Police Darrell Smith with Kings County's top Law enforcement officials during Friday night's gathering at the Lemoore Civic Auditorium.

Plenty of love and respect circulated in the Lemoore Civic Auditorium Friday night as the community, the city’s police department, at least two former mayors, friends, and family members, delivered a collective heartfelt thanks to former Lemoore Police Chief Darrell Smith for his 30-year career protecting the citizens of Kings County.

Many of Smith’s friends, family, and colleagues crowded into the Civic Auditorium Friday night to bid a fond farewell to Smith, who retired recently after 30 years as a police officer with Hanford and his final six years as Lemoore’s police chief. And the accolades didn't end with Smith's retirement gathering Friday night. On Jan. 17, at the annual Lemoore Chamber of Commerce 62nd Annual Gala, Smith will add the Public Safety Individual of the Year award to his impressive resume. 

But on Friday night, much of the love came from his own family. His daughter, Kyle Smith, taking on the evening’s master of ceremonies role, began the lovefest with a heartfelt declaration of respect for her father, shared by her sister Ryan and mom Maryann.

“He’s my hero,” said Kyle. “I’m proud to look up to him,” echoing the thoughts of many in the audience, including her sister and mother.

Daughter Ryan presented her father with a poem reading it to the audience, many of them doing their best to hold back tears, including her father.

From former Hanford colleague and Hanford’s latest police chief, Parker Sever, came a bit of humor and a lot of respect. “I worked with him for many hears,” said Chief Sever. “He worked at the city of Hanford for 24 years. Darrell was a leader, and he was a great motivator. He cares very much about people, and to me, he’s been a friend and a mentor.”

Combining a deep sense of respect for Smith with a subtle sense of humor, Sever presented the retiring police chief with his Hanford Police Department personnel file.

The accolades continued, including words of respect from Lemoore police officers, current chief Michael Kendall, and others.

His other daughter, Ryan, read an emotional poem that seemed to hit home with her father and other law enforcement officers.  

Chief Darrell Smith with family members (L to R) spouse Maryann, Ryan and Kyle.
Chief Darrell Smith with family members (L to R) spouse Maryann, Ryan and Kyle.

Then Smith stepped in from of the microphone and declared his love for family and his respect for his community and fellow law enforcement officials. “You are my family,” he said of his years with the Lemoore and Hanford police departments. “And if you live in Lemoore, there’s no city like it.”

He expressed his love for his own family and the family he served for 30 years as a law enforcement officer, culminating in his appointment as Lemoore’s police chief. “You are my family. I pay for your safety every day.”

The 54-year-old former police chief talked of his decision to enter law enforcement. “I was entering one of the most noble professions in all of mankind,” he said. “Our public safety needs you now more than ever,” he told the law enforcement officers present Friday night.

“The vast majority of men and women I’ve served with were exceptional,” he continued. “For every negative story (about law enforcement), there are a thousand stories of courage. I’ve served with the brightest minds in law enforcement. Our cooperation in Kings County is envied throughout the state.”

Smith isn’t retiring for good. Instead, Smith will remain in law enforcement. He’s taking his 30 years of training and police knowledge to the Tulare Kings Police Academy at the College of Sequoias Hanford campus where will assume the director’s job.

The personable and outgoing Smith is first and foremost a Lemoore boy, a 1983 Lemoore High School grad, shortly after his graduation, started his own construction business. But it wasn’t enough for the ambitious young man. He entered the local police academy intent of becoming a reserve police officer. But he did so well that he graduated No. 1 in his class – academically and physically.

His positive attributes and outstanding work ethic in the Academy had the Hanford Police Department come calling. He was hired right out of the academy, where he graduated first in his class. He earned his Hanford Police Department badge during his graduation ceremony.

He started as a police officer and, during his 24 years in Hanford, earned a captain’s rank. “I was second in command when I left,” he recalled. That’s because Lemoore came calling and needed an interim police chief.

He took the job when the former chief took on the city manager’s job. It turned out the Lemoore folks liked Smith and awarded him the full-time job in 2014.

And on Friday night, his friends, family, and fellow law enforcement compatriots bid him a fond farewell from his latest job, but he’ll still be there. His spirit, his observance to the rule of law, and his knowledge of law enforcement will be instilled in every police academy recruit Smith sends to local law enforcement agencies.

And you can bet the public will be kept safe.


Friends and law enforcement gather to honor former Lemoore Chief Darrell Smith