Locust officer Tucker receives third annual Chief Steven ‘Smitty’ Smith Officer of the Year award

Published 2:32 pm Monday, February 13, 2023

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With a capacity crowd inside the Joel Honeycutt Community Room, including the large majority of the police force, Locust Chief Jeff Shew handed out the third annual Chief Steven “Smitty” Smith Officer of the Year award Thursday evening during the City Council meeting.

The award went to Detective Sgt. Brittany Tucker, who has been with the department since around 2009. She was nominated for the award by four of her peers. A former Locust Elementary school resource officer, Tucker was one of the first officers to earn master officer status. She has completed more than 1,600 hours of training in her career — the most of any Locust officer, Shew said.

Her efforts last year overseeing investigations, both as a primary investigator and assisting other officers, played a role in the department achieving record highs with regards to overall clearance percentage (95.3%), confirmed criminal incidence clearance (79.2%) and property crime and fraud incidence clearance (71.2%).

“While being the only detective for most of the year, Sgt. Tucker has shown her true value to this department,” Shew said. “She has become a true leader and superstar for our agency.”

Tucker, who has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Stanly Community College, has also been active in the community, as she is the co-founder and coordinator of Locust’s “Shop With A Cop” program, which takes place each December.

The award, which was named after the former police chief who died in 2020, was based on a combination of factors including officers’ statistics (arrests, incidence clearance rate, etc.), how many times they were named officer of the month and their impact on the general community.

Tucker, who is the first woman to win the award, joins Sgt. Brandon Stancil, the 2021 recipient, and Cpl. Dwayne Dietz, who received the inaugural award in 2020.

The other two finalists for the award were Dietz, who has been with the department since 2012, and Joshua Gardner, who has been with the department since 2020 and was an officer of the year finalist last year.

Brittany Tucker, Josh Gardner and Dwayne Dietz were the three Officer of the Year finalists for 2022.

Mayor Steve Huber, a retired police lieutenant with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police who’s been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, had high praise for Tucker, calling her a “pillar of the Locust PD.”

“I cannot think of the Locust Police without thinking of you and all that you have done,” he said. “I know that Smitty is smiling right now because I know how much he loved you.”

Huber is confident that some day, whether with Locust or another police department, Tucker will be wearing a white shirt, signifying the position of police chief, because “that girl right there, she’s got the talent,” he said.

Shew recognized another Locust officer during the meeting as Ryan Tran-Thompson earned his advance law enforcement certification. While it can take more than 20 years for officers to achieve this mark, Thompson, who has been with the department for about a year, earned his in less than a decade, Shew said.

Robert Godek and Timmy Hartsell, the co-officers of the month for January, were also recognized.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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