The Los Angeles City Council gave Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith, who heads the department’s media relations section, a fond send- off Tuesday as he departs for Green Bay, Wisconsin, to become that city’s police chief.
Smith’s last day is Tuesday. He is handing the reins to Capt. Andy Neiman, who was named by Police Chief Charlie Beck Tuesday as the new public information officer for the department.
Beck said he chose Smith to serve as the LAPD’s public face because he “had the kind of credibility” that resonates both within the department and with the public.
“He is the real deal,” Beck said.
Beck said he is “impressed” by Smith’s “humanity, his humor and the way he speaks from his heart.”
Smith walked the Occupy L.A. encampments outside City Hall in 2011 and “made sure that people were being treated fairly and that rules were being followed,” according to Beck.
Beck also credited the commander with being one of the reasons Los Angeles alone among several major cities was able to disperse the months-long gathering without any major incidents.
Council President Herb Wesson praised Smith as an “honorable man and class act,” while also ribbing him by calling him a “good, skinny cop” who “never gained an ounce of weight” during his time with the city.
“While you’ll be missed, Wisconsin definitely has a tremendous gain,” Councilman Mitch Englander told Smith.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former Los Angeles police officer, said Smith “showed the heart behind your badge” throughout his career.
Smith, who has been with the LAPD for 27, said “it’s been wonderful working here in Los Angeles.”
“You should all know you can rest comfortably at night knowing the Los Angeles Police Department is full of hardworking, constitutional, considerate, gentle, good people,” he said. “And they’re out there doing good work every night, and a lot of times we don’t get to see that and these are tough times for police agencies across the country.”
“I wish you all well, and I hope I see you at a Packers game,” he said.
Smith grew up in Iron Mountain, Michigan, about 100 miles north of Green Bay, which he said was considered “the big city” where he visited to buy groceries and new clothes for school.
Smith attended UC San Diego. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from USC in 1997.
Before working in the LAPD’s media relations section, he served as commanding officer of the criminal gang homicide group and as an assistant commander in the department’s Central, South and West bureaus.
Smith and his wife, a native of Montana, have two young children.
—City News Service
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