Officer O’Smarty: He’s No Dummy

In 1993, the entire city of San Francisco voted about whether police officer Robert J. (Bob) Geary was allowed to carry his dummy while on patrol.  How did this come to a citywide vote, you may ask?

In 1991 Geary was assigned to a program which encouraged officers to be “highly visible” and use “creative and ingenious methods” to earn his community’s trust.  So, he bought a wooden dummy and taught himself how to use it, practicing for hours in front of a mirror.  He chose the name “Brendan O’Smarty” for his dummy (“Smarty“, for short).  Smarty wore a police uniform with badge number 1/2 and toted a water pistol, entertaining children when Geary was on patrol.

No Dummies Allowed

A year later, a new police chief ordered Geary to keep his dummy in his vehicle while on patrol. Pressure was put on the mayor to override the police chief, but he refused. In 1993 Geary decided to spend his own money to bring the matter to a city vote. The referendum stated:

Shall it be the policy of the people of San Francisco to allow Police Officer Bob Geary to decide when he may use his puppet Brendan O’Smarty while on duty?

Geary won and continued to use Smarty for years, becoming not only a local phenomenon, but a celebrity at nationwide ventriloquist conventions.  He even appeared in a 2000 documentary entitled: Dummies! 

The IRS says:  We’re No Dummy

Since it is tax season; here’s an interesting side note. Geary tried to take an $11,500 tax deduction, noting it as an “advertising expense” to cover the money he spent to raise the referendum. The IRS issued a number of humorous statements, including “when it comes to taxes, Officer O’Smarty is a dummy.” Unfortunately, Geary did not get the deduction.

It took courage for Officer Geary to do what he did, and he demonstrated courage in the line of duty as well, earning four medals of valor during his career.

When Officers Geary and O’Smarty retired from the police force in 2000 the mayor declared it “Officer Geary Day.”


Officer O’Smarty at Work



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