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Richard Smith Biography

Family Faced Racism And Death Threats, Pursued Police Work Instead Of Ministry, Earned Accolades From His Peers


Firearms analyst

Richard Smith is an expert firearms analyst for the Los Angeles Police Department's Scientific Investigation Division. Possessing an uncanny ability to remember microscopic detail, keen eyesight, patience, and tenacity, Smith helps the department crack difficult cases. Unassuming, thoughtful, and articulate, Smith once sought to dedicate his life to the ministry but his talents afforded him another means to help his community. He has earned the awe and respect of many experts in his field who consider Smith to be gifted, comparing his work to that of a master jeweler.

Smith was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, on June 21, 1957, to Percy Smith, Jr., a Methodist minister, and Lucy Gilliam Smith. Because of his father's work the family lived in several cities around the South. Despite the constant uprooting he has memories of a happy childhood. "Most of my memories are visual or artistic," Smith said in an interview with Contemporary Black Biography (CBB). "But I'm terrible with names." This visual memory would later serve him well with his ballistics work for the Los Angeles Police Department.

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