Nothing Left to Prove: A Law Enforcement Memoir – Danny R. Smith

SmithA friend whom I have known since elementary school recently finished twenty years with the New York City Police Department. Though eligible for retirement, he continues to serve the city where he was born. I and other friends have never failed to remind him to be careful on the dangerous streets of New York. Long hours, dangerous criminals and bureaucratic obstacles can sometimes make being a police officer a difficult and thankless job. And when I watch the hit show The First 48, I am  always amazed at the skills of homicide detectives as they solve crimes in cities across America. Danny R. Smith served as a homicide detective in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for seven out of the twenty-years he reported for duty. This is his story as part of law enforcement in the City of Angels. 

The book begins with Smith revisiting the day when he knew that the time had come for him to make his exit from the force. The scene he arrives upon is macabre, but we learn towards the end of the book when he explains the full details surrounding the discovery, that the reason for the find is far simpler and less sinister. However, Smith had reached his breaking point but in order for us to understand why, we have to go back in time to the beginning of the wild ride he took during two decades of service. Expectedly, he explains how he joined the Sheriff’s Department and the path he took to homicide. And it is at that part of the book that the story heats up. As we follow him from one case to the next, the dark side of Southern California comes into vivid focus. But the book is far more than just a former officer’s tales of war on the streets. In the mix of murders, burglaries and other crimes, Smith shows us his personal life and the struggles he endures due to injuries on the job and the mental challenges that come with daily exposure to the deadly side of humanity. It will be hard for any reader not to appreciate the enormous sacrifices made by the people in law enforcement. 

As expected, there are dark moments in the book, but Smith also adds the right amount of humor at times to take the edge off. And what he shows is that the life of a homicide detective is anything but orthodox.  His journeys took him across the United States in pursuit of fugitives who could not escape justice. And the stories he tells of transporting prisoners back across the country are both humorous and interesting. The lengths to which detectives go to capture a suspect are eye opening. But not all suspects are apprehended and crimes do remain unsolved as we see in the book. But it is not for lack of effort.  Smith was a first-class detective who was thoroughly committed to his job and the people of Los Angeles. 

The riots in Los Angeles after the acquittal of police officers charged with beating motorist Rodney King (1965-2012) remain fresh in the minds of all who remember them. I remember watching the aftermath play out on television as Los Angeles went up in flames.  Smith was on the ground and discusses the riots highlighting how dangerous the situation was. But during his career, he experienced the loss of fellow officers.  Each death hits home for Smith and he remembers his fallen officers with grace and how it affected those who continued to do the job. And the harsh reality that the show must go on is apparent as more calls come in for Los Angeles’ finest. The hours are long and the work is dangerous, and I can only imagine the number of stories that did not make it into the book.  Smith’s eyes have seen things that can haunt a person for a long time or make them smile on occasion. 

Smith was as seasoned as detectives come but even he could not avoid fate.  The physical and mental toll of being a police officer comes into focus as the job wears him down over time.  And as the book moves closer to the conclusion, the writing is on the wall. Smith was reaching his end, but I personally did not want the book to finish.  His memories had me glued to the screen and I hated to put the Kindle down.  I can now see why the book has a five-star rating on Amazon. This incredible memoir is perfect for anyone who is interested in the life of a police officer/homicide detective. Smith is now retired but he will forever be a part of Los Angeles history. 

“For those who haven’t been there, know that the great majority of cops are kind and caring souls, driven to the profession with the desire to help others, to protect the weak from bullies and predators, and to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. We sacrifice holidays and special occasions and sometimes much, much more, to make a difference in our communities. To make a difference in your communities.”

Danny R. Smith 


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