HPD's Smith named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

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By Alice Du Pont

Lt. Tracy Smith of the Havana Police Department has been named the 2009 Gadsden County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Smith and other nominees were honored Tuesday during the annual law enforcement luncheon sponsored by local civic organizations.

In nominating Smith, Havana's police chief Glynn Beach wrote that Smith has displayed and sustained superior performance without equal within the police department.

According to Beach's nominating letter, Smith showed courage and foresight when he responded to a suicide call on March 22, involving a man holding an automatic handgun in one hand and a revolver and threatening to kill himself.

"Disregarding his own personal safety, Lt. Smith was able to talk to the man long enough to lower his anxiety level and eventually causing him to be able to remove the weapons and place them in a nearby dresser drawer," Beach wrote.

In another incident, a masked man stole money from the Subway restaurant in Havana. Beach said it was through Smith's "diligent efforts and tenacity" that a suspect was eventually identified. The man subsequently admitted stealing money from Subway and also to the burglary of a Havana residence.

Smith was also praised for taking the initiative to enroll in courses that helped the entire department, volunteered for more responsibilities within the department and assumed additional duty assignments, including working during the town of Havana's Relay For Life.

Deputy Joseph Barnes, nominated by the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office, was singled out because of his work as a school resource officer as well as his performance as a K-9 officer.

As a school resource officer, he provided classroom instruction on such topics as drug awareness, crime prevention, gang awareness and other instruction that school administrators deemed necessary.

“It takes a special person to serve as a K-9 officer. It requires many hours of training both on and off duty. Deputy Barnes has two K-9 partners, Cherokee and Stormy. He has distinguished himself as someone willing to devote his time to the GCSO and other agencies that request his support," wrote Lt. Jim Corder in his recommendation letter.

This year, Barnes was called out approximately 40 times while off duty and 17 of those times were for violent felonies such as robberies, home invasions and burglaries. His work resulted in 15 arrests.

"Deputy Barnes has assisted the Florida Highway Patrol, Quincy Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Office as was the case on Jan. 13 when the missing pilot was located at the KOA Campground near Chattahoochee. Deputy Barnes was instrumental in finding him and saving his life," Corder wrote.

Florida Fish and Wildlife nominee Hank Forehand is a 7-year veteran of the department currently assigned to Gadsden and Liberty counties. According to his nominating officer, Lt. Harry Parker, Forehand places strong emphasis on educating those who use the state's outdoor resources.

"This past year he has been especially active in the areas of illegal night hunting, boating safety, wildlife boating violations and rural law enforcement. In addition, Officer Forehand has spent considerable time working flood-damaged areas in Gadsden and Liberty counties, as well as teaching hunter safety and boating classes," Parker wrote.

Two troopers who work as a team were this year's nominees from the Florida Highway Patrol. Troopers Joel Clark and Robert Arnold were unable to attend the luncheon and assistant state attorney Richard Combs, who presided over the program, talked about their contributions.

"Trooper Arnold and Trooper Clark worked a team in the Contraband Interdiction Program for the past year most of the time in Gadsden County. In 2008, the pair made 214 arrests, including 87 felony arrests and 127 misdemeanor arrests. Out of those arrests, 67 were narcotic related and 31 were fugitives from justice," Combs said.

They also seized $14,560 in currency, seized two vehicles that were used in the commission of a felony and seized seven firearms. They also seized approximately 195 grams of cocaine and just under 13 pounds of marijuana.

For the first time, the GCSO Correctional Facility nominated an officer. Maj. James Morgan nominated Detention Deputy Anthony Boyland, citing for his "exemplary work ethic."

"He is very dependable and is willing to work overtime on short notice and does so without hesitation. Deputy Boyland works calmly under extreme pressure and in emergencies," Morgan wrote.

The speaker for the luncheon was acting U.S. Attorney Tom Kirwin, who talked about the departments in the U.S. Department of Justice and the duties of those departments.

Combs, told the officers attending the luncheon that their long hours and dedication do not go unnoticed by the citizens of Gadsden County.

The civic organizations that partner to hold the luncheon includes Kiwanis International, Pilot International, Rotary International and Lions International.