Locust hires new police chief

Locust’s newest police chief will come from within the city’s own ranks.

Steven R. Smith, currently a captain in the city’s police department, was named to the position Thursday by the city council. Smith will take up the reins for retiring chief, Frank Hartsell, on Dec. 30.

“While looking over applicants, it was clear we had what we needed in-house,” Mayor Steve Huber said.

While applicants outside of the city were qualified for the position, it was hard for any of them to match the passion Smith had for the city, Huber said.

Born and raised in Locust, Smith began his law enforcement career as a reserve officer in Locust. After spending a few years working in the Monroe and Kannapolis police departments, he returned to Locust in 2007.

As a Locust police officer, Smith has held the rank of sergeant and most recently captain.He has been responsible for the patrol division, the Field Training Officer program and oversees Locust police department training.

His and his family have also lived in Locust for years.

“And that’s what we really need,” Huber said. “Someone who knows this city, this community, this department … if for no other reason, you deserve this job because of your love for Locust.”

The decision was still not an easy one, though, councilors added. The city actually had two in-house applicants, Smith and Detective Jeff Shue, both of which know the city very well.

“But it was a good dilemna to have,” Huber said.

Councilors said they were excited to have such qualified individuals rising up from within their own department, and to see how they work together.

“It gives me high hopes for the future of our police force,” said Councilman Michael Haigler, who served as chief of the department for many years.

City staff also spoke highly of Smith’s professional credentials and leadership abilities.
Smith got his associate degree in criminal justice from Stanly Community College, an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate from the N.C. Department of Justice and recently graduated from the Law Enforcement Management Academy.

“He is a leader in the law enforcement community that commands the respect of his fellow officers,” City Administrator Cesar Correa said. “The City of Locust and its residents are fortunate to have an individual of his caliber leading the best law enforcement agency in Stanly County. I look forward to the many wonderful things he’ll achieve as our new chief of police.”

A special swearing in ceremony will take place on Smith’s first day as chief, Dec. 30. For more details, contact the Locust City Hall at 704-888-5260.