9 things we learned from Dave Smith's Reddit AMA

LE legend talks state of policing, most memorable arrest, his alter ego 'Buck Savage' in Reddit Q&A

Legendary former police officer and current police trainer Dave Smith, also known by his alias JD ‘Buck’ Savage, answered questions from users of popular website Reddit in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) held on Saturday. What’s Dave’s take on the current state of LE? Which less lethal device does he think will soon be phased out? Perhaps most importantly, what’s his favorite donut? We’ve pulled some highlights from the Q&A. Take a look, and be sure to check out the full AMA here.

1. He believes agencies are currently facing “the greatest challenge…in their history.”
It’s widely accepted that this period in law enforcement is among the more trying the profession has ever been through, but it’s still up for debate if it’s the most difficult time. Smith weighed in, stating that the “general animosity within the community” is something he’s “never seen in my lifetime.”

Smith believes the increasingly negative attention on LE has resulted in the greatest challenge departments have ever faced: “the insertion of political policies from the outside into day-to-day policing operations.”

Dave Smith.
Dave Smith. (Image via jdbucksavage.com)

2. His cop car of choice is the Chevy Impala.
While the Crown Vic gets a lot of love from the LE community, Smith credited the Impala’s speed and stability as the reason it took the title of his favorite vehicle he ever used on patrol. “They hugged the road well and accelerated fabulously,” he wrote.

More importantly, the car fares well against cattle; Smith learned this the hard way when one suddenly appeared in his headlights 15 feet away from him on the highway. Smith didn’t elaborate further: “Not much to it. Saw cow, hit same.”

3. Smith’s most memorable arrest happened on a golf course.
Me and Charlie Ruiz chased a smuggler through the clubhouse in a fancy golf course resort - we ran through the clubhouse and restaurant with our guns drawn and finally grabbed him on the fairway,” Smith wrote. “This was a multi-ton narcotics dealer, by the way.”

4. His favorite donut: bear claw.
Where does the law enforcement legend stand in the great donut debate? Smith thinks bear claws ultimately win out, but he keeps his options open. “Any donut that doesn't flake on my uniform, or use powdered sugar,” Smith said.

5. He first got into LE while fighting fires during college.
“I fought fires in the Coconino National Forest, and I was in a tanker patrol truck,” Smith said. “I got assigned to the federal law enforcement class so that I could write tickets, and just said ‘this is the right fit for me.’ Spent the summer writing the tickets, and fighting the fires, and enjoyed the former more than the latter. After that, I put in for several agencies and got hired by Tucson.”

6. His work in radio played a role in the creation of the Buck Savage character.
Developed in the ‘80s, Smith’s humorous police training videos starring his alias, J.D. “Buck” Savage, are arguably his biggest claim to fame. But how did he develop the beloved buffoon?

“Back in 1980, I was the survival and fitness coordinator with DPS [Arizona Department of Public Safety] and we felt if we could add a safety tip into our quarterly safety videos, they would have better retention and improve officer safety,” Smith wrote. “I had done radio in college, and felt humor was an essential part of learning.”

7. His favorite Buck Savage clip?
When Smith was asked to choose a favorite Buck Savage video, he pointed to the classic “Saw Drunk Arrested Same.”

“That moment when the lawyer hears Savage’s name and [is] just laughing is just fantastic. Then hearing the report and him [Savage] getting ripped apart!” Smith wrote. “The courtroom was actually requested by Maricopa County ADA Mike McNeff, who played the prosecutor, and we did have fun taping that one, because we used real deputy county attorneys.”

8. His favorite part of being a trooper?
“Narcotics, which was the greatest adventure of my life.”

9. He thinks the baton may be in its last days as an LE tool.
During a discussion on use of force and the public’s negative view of certain less-lethal tools, Smith made an interesting prediction:

“I'll tell you this: no less-lethal instrument has a more negative ‘witness factor’ than a baton. I actually predict that the expandable baton may be eliminated by this current negative media portrayal of the police. There is no use-of-force option that is attractive to the public, however.” 

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