Retired Franklin cop knew he wanted to serve

As a youngster, Terry Smith watched the old police shows such as “Dragnet” and “Adam-12” and knew he wanted to be a police officer.

“I thought being a police officer would be a great job because it seemed exciting,” Smith said.

Smith, 59, recently retired after spending the last 25 years of a 34-year law enforcement career as a full-time Franklin police officer. He became a full-time officer in 1991 after serving the previous four years as reserve officer. Smith completed his police academy training and worked as a Carlisle police officer and a Warren County deputy sheriff.

Smith started his public safety career as a Carlisle volunteer fireman in 1977 and worked as an EMT with the old Franklin Emergency Squad, a forerunner of Joint Emergency Medical Services. While he did part-time and volunteer public safety work, Smith also worked in factories in Franklin and West Carrollton.

“I was a fireman, so I upgraded to become a police officer,” he joked. “It beats factory work.”

Smith said he left the sheriff’s office to become a Franklin officer because there was more opportunity to get involved.

“Franklin has it all — there’s always something happening,” he said. “I was always happy being a patrol officer… I’ve always enjoyed the job because it was an opportunity to meet new people and to help people.”

During his career, Smith worked as a school resource officer for the Franklin City Schools.

“That was a great job,” he said. “I really missed it because of the interaction with the kids and teachers. I felt I was really making a difference.”

He said students were able to come to him, share their problems, and he was able to talk to them and help them resolve their problems. Smith described the teachers as “awesome.”

Smith said he’s seen many changes as a police officer, including the increase in equipment and training. He said starting out, officers had a radio and what they carried on their belts. Now there is radar, cruiser cameras, computers and body cameras, and officers still have to be on top of their game.

“We’re getting more training than ever before, and we should be expected to do more,” he said. “I think expectations are getting higher from the public as they should be.”

He’s always enjoyed the job, but Smith had his frustrations about it as well — such not being able to solve a case or when a jury wasn’t convinced that a person committed a crime he investigated.

Smith has also seen first-hand how substance abuse can hurt families, both professionally and personally.

His daughter Jamie, 32, is currently in a Dayton prison after a probation violation. She was convicted of a felony theft offense that stems from drug addiction. Smith said his daughter has been in and out of jail since she was 13 after she got hooked on drugs.

“That made it very difficult because you come in here and see what’s on the streets, and it hits home when you have a family member that’s addicted to the substances on the street,” Smith said. “It’s better that she’s locked up because she’s healthier. It’s bad when you have to go to jail to get clean from drug addiction. But for some people, that’s the only thing that works.”

His daughter is scheduled to be released to a halfway house in about six months, Smith said.

“Seeing it from that side gave me a better understanding on how an addiction gets a hold of someone,” Smith said. “You see how addiction affects the person and the whole family because all of the family members are going through a difficult time. It’s made me more compassionate for people who have an addiction.”

He said addicts are doing what they have to do to survive and it has an impact on families both emotionally and financially.

“You want to help, but it’s frustrating that they don’t get it,” he said. “You want to do the right thing, but it’s hard because the addiction is so strong.”

Overall, he described his career as “rewarding.”

“There’s been a lot of people that I helped along the way,” Smith said. “I may have been the one person to reach out and maybe the only one that day or week that tried to help that person.”

Smith is going to continue as a Franklin reserve officer as well as work at a local gun shop where his son is a part-owner.