Toyota of Redlands
“People have hobbies, right?” he says. “Some people play golf. Some go fishing. Well this is my hobby. I strap on a gun, grab a police car and go on patrol. I have the same training as a regular paid officer.”
Yep, that’s right. Paul Smith moonlights as a cop.
During the day, Smith is the general manager of Toyota of Redlands, a role he assumed in 1997.
And for the last 14 years, Smith has served Redlands, California, as a volunteer police officer, putting in 40 -- 60 hours a month on patrol.
And, it turns out, Smith is pretty good at his craft. He estimates there are up to 4,700 volunteer officers in California. Recently, he was honored as the California Reserve Peace Officers Association Officer of the Year.
“I always wanted to be a police officer, but then I got in the car business,” Smith says. “About six years after I became general manager, I decided to explore hobbies, which led me to the academy.”
Smith is fully trained in his hobby. It took two years of night and weekend training to get qualified. He is certified to teach firearms, defensive tactics, physical training, report writing and scenarios at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Training Academy.
Since Smith took over as general manager, the dealership’s metrics have markedly increased. Oh, and the dealer’s relationship with area first responders has, unsurprisingly, thrived.
“Let me tell you this,” Smith says. “It has 100 percent helped with car sales. Law enforcement officers know they’ll get taken care of, dealt with well. Then again, we do that with every customer.”
The old adage is that you should be part of the community you sell in. Well, Smith has taken that to a new level.