By Brianna Lusk
Valley Women Writer
3:15 PM PDT, August 9, 2011
When the sirens switch on, Lindsey Smith seems fearless.
There’s no telling who is going to be in the car when she pulls it over, what’s going to happen when she knocks on that door to serve a warrant, and almost no guarantee that tonight she’ll be able to go home to her two sons.
As one of the featured female deputies of the hit reality show “Police Women of Maricopa County” on TLC (aired in 2010), Smith became known for having a passion for catching criminals and refusing to take any back talk from those placed under arrest.
“Typically you don’t want people to know that you’re a cop because you tend to have a target on your back. When I went from EMS to law enforcement it was hard. You tend to not want to tell people what you do for a living,” said Smith.
When she was approached for the show, she had nearly a decade of experience with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and worked for one of the most notorious sheriffs in the country. With her experience as a public information officer, Smith was no stranger to the local media cameras.
The single mother of two young sons, now seven and three, Lindsey saw the opportunity to be featured on the reality series as a way to inspire others.
“After I met with the producers, I realized it was all about empowering women. That in itself made me want to do the project. I think so many times women and young girls are told they can’t do something because of they’re a girl. Being out there everyday with our own limitations we’ve each had, I wanted to be able to show every female out there regardless of age, size, race, you can do whatever you set your mind or heart to,” Smith said.
Long before she was wearing a badge, the Brawley native knew she wanted to dedicate her life to helping other people. Though many of her family members are involved in the medical field, as an ambitious young woman she was taking classes to become an emergency medical technician before she graduated high school.
By the age of 18, she was working as an EMT in the emergency room at Pioneers Memorial Hospital and later worked for Gold Cross Ambulance.
“It makes you grow up, when you have somebody’s life in your hands,” Smith said. “It makes you figure things out really quickly.”
In 2000 Lindsey was ready for a change. She played on a traveling softball team and had friends in the Phoenix, Ariz. area who encouraged her to move. That’s when she “went to the dark side” of law enforcement.
“I do have a tough side of me. At work I’m very much a protector,” Smith, 33, said. “I have a compassionate side too that’s really needed in society today. I fell in love with the job right away.”
In her 10 years of being a deputy sheriff, Smith said she has been blessed in her career. When TLC was auditioning big agencies throughout the nation to be featured on the show, she found herself becoming more interested throughout the interview process.
But opening one’s life to public scrutiny, especially in such an emotionally demanding career, can bring along criticism with its praise. A local Phoenix area blogger was known for mocking Smith’s occasional cursing and is known in general to disapprove of the sheriff’s office. Smith said she took such things in stride and was careful to keep watch over her son when they were in public places after the show aired.
“Lots of fan mail came in, letters and e-mails from a variety of people and ages. That was so touching. I had a man who sent me a lucky nickel that had been passed on through the years in his family. He was a war veteran. He sent it to me to keep me safe,” she said. “I wear it in my (bulletproof) vest every day.”
Smith keeps in contact with one fan in particular, a blind girl from Washington who sent her letter in Braille and had her mother translate it. Over the years the girl had been having a very difficult time and when her family began watching the show, Smith’s voice was particularly attractive to the young girl. They spent time together watching the show and the issues seemed to resolve over time.
“I write back and forth with her to this day,” Smith said. “There’s been some really touching things that have come from doing the show and that makes me feel good. It was well worth it.”
Now that the cameras and spotlight have shut off, Lindsey is back to taking her kids to activities, sports, and school. Her parents have retired and moved to the Phoenix area to help with Zack and Brody.
“My saving grace is that I have two of the best parents in the world. They’re amazing and help me tremendously with my schedule,” Smith said.
Despite being a self-proclaimed tough chick, Smith also knows that while her world revolves around her sons, it is just as important to take time for herself. She exercises to relieve stress, goes out with the girls, water-skis and has spa days.
She recharges to get the strength to go out and do it all again. In the face of the social ills she experiences everyday, Lindsey said it is the her boys’ smiles that keep her going.
“There’s no limit to what I’ll do for the two of them. Seeing that smile, feeling that hug in the morning…that’s all I need.”
Copyright © 2013, Imperial Valley Press