A legendary figure in the south Jamaica community was honored with a street co-naming on Saturday, May 22.
Friends, family and colleagues of NYPD Detective Lawrence Cecil Smith gathered at the corner of 168th Street and Baisley Boulevard to honor the longtime youth officer who mentored countless youths during his tenure at the 113th Precinct.
“Detective Smitty changed what it meant to be a mentor for young people, and he always gave back to his community, especially to the next generation,” Councilwoman Adrienne Adams said. “His contributions to our community will never be forgotten. Detective Smitty’s legacy will live on in the hundreds, if not thousands, of lives he changed for the better. I am proud that whenever community members, young people and police officers walk by the 113th Precinct, they can look up and be reminded of Detective Smitty’s impact.”
Adams sponsored the legislation and hosted the event that unveiled the street sign for “Detective Lawrence Cecil Smith Boulevard.”
“Detective Lawrence Cecil Smith was a true hero, not just for his service to southeast Queens as a police officer and our nation as a member of the Armed Forces, but also for his dedication to the empowerment of children across our borough through mentorship, ministry and sports,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Detective Smith left an indelible mark on so many young people over the course of many decades. With this street co-naming, his legacy will live on in the community he loved so much.”
Born on March 29, 1945, in Brooklyn, Smith was the youngest son of William Ellery Smith and Cecilia Bush Smith. Following his honorable discharge, Smith graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He later graduated from the police academy and became an officer in the 113th Precinct.
“This street co-naming of Detective Lawrence Cecil Smith Boulevard in honor of the late Detective Smitty and his dedication to our youngest and most vulnerable serves as a testament to all NYPD Police Officers and Youth Coordination Officers today,” said Assistant Chief Ruben Beltran, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens South.
After retiring from the NYPD, Smith relocated to Palm Coast, Florida, in 1998 and became an active member of Mount Calvary Baptist Church, serving as director of operations, director of the Security Ministry, and a member of the Youth Advisory Council. He was also a vacation Bible school teacher and substitute teacher with the Flagler County School District, a basketball coach for the Flagler PAL program, and served on the executive committee of the local NAACP chapter.
Smith is survived by his wife of 18 years, Dr. Pamela Jackson-Smith, his two sons Keith Lawrence Smith and Howard Martin Smith, three grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and a host of mentees and friends.
“I am thankful to the NYPD officials and elected officials for honoring my husband Lawrence C. Smith for the sacrifice and service that he provided the 113th Precinct. My husband Larry was the epitome of a civil servant. He dedicated his life to the betterment of this community,” Jackson-Smith said. “Hundreds of youth were saved from the grips of despair through his Youth Council outreach. It was more than about sports. It was about character-building, work ethic and being model citizens. He impacted a generation of youth, where many followed his path into law enforcement. ‘To protect and serve’ became his life’s mission. He leaves behind a legacy that is a tried and true model of community policing that is amenable to informing community policing policies even now in this critical time of need in our communities.”
Detective Tanya Duhaney of Patrol Borough Queens South has Smith as a mentor.
“A life filled with purpose is a life full of service to help others,” she said.
Smith’s niece Dawn Hewitt called him a larger than life figure.
“He was truly my rock. His youth program helped to mold and build the character of so many NYC youths. I know it helped to build mine. He taught us about work ethics. He instilled in me and others the value of an education,” Hewitt said. “Through watching him, I learned leadership skills. So many others, myself included, have been able to achieve all that we are because of the foundation he gave us. To me, he was not only an uncle, he was my hero.”