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A year of living dangerously takes a toll on undercover Memphis officer

Editor's note: The following editorial appeared in the September 1, 2009 edition of The Commercial Appeal:

Police work can be a thankless, dangerous and stressful job.
The public too often is unaware of the many heroic sacrifices by officers who do their jobs well out of the media spotlight. Unfortunately, it's the corrupt cops - of which there have been far too many in Memphis - who make the headlines. The compelling story of Memphis Police Det. April Leatherwood, however, is one that should make all residents appreciate the commitment that officers make to protect and serve the public. According to the story Sunday by Commercial Appeal reporter Kristina Goetz, Leatherwood spent about a year deep undercover living as crack cocaine junkie Summer Smith. During that time, her work resulted in more than 280 arrests, ranging from street-level pushers to big-time drug dealers. While undercover, Leatherwood was separated completely from the department and her family. Working alone, she experienced firsthand the seedy underworld of the drug trade in Memphis where the lives of children are often put at risk. Leatherwood was among a small number of Memphis officers who work under deep cover to help rid the community of the scourge of dangerous drugs.Their work may go unnoticed, but all Memphians should be gratified by what they do.

By Kristina Goetz
Memphis Commercial Appeal

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — April Leatherwood no longer goes by the name Summer Smith.

Summer's brown, greasy hair has been cut and bleached, highlighted to April's honey blond. Summer's glasses have been removed to reveal April's 20/20 vision.

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