The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

May 3, 2007

Smith named Raleigh County’s top officer

Fraternal Order of Police honors top officers from nine agencies

As his proud family stood tall — and his young daughter excitedly played — a detective devoted to clearing the streets of illegal drugs was named Raleigh County’s Officer of the Year for 2006.

The honor was awarded to Detective Cpl. Chuck Smith of the Beckley Police Department posthumously.

Smith was named the Fraternal Order of Police, Black Diamond Lodge No. 81, Officer of the Year for 2006. Smith, a 29-year-old detective for the city’s Narcotics Enforcement Division, was shot and killed Aug. 29, 2006, in the line of duty during an undercover drug operation.

Bill O’Brien, director of Concord University’s Beckley Center and radio show host, noted Smith was the only officer in West Virginia killed in the line of duty last year.

His mother, Sonya “Susie” Smith, addressed the crowd gathered at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center as people across the room could be heard struggling to hold back tears.

“You have no idea how important you all are,” she said to the law enforcement officers gathered. “I wish Chuck could be here, of course.”

She later stroked the Officer of the Year trophy with her son’s name engraved on it. She declined to put it in a box she was given, wanting to hold it.

“I wish he could have received it when he was here,” she said. “He would probably hit the floor knowing he won something like this. He would be in disbelief.

“I hope this is the last time they have to give this to an officer who is unable to attend.”

His father, Charles “Rusty” Smith, noted his son strived to achieve at everything he did — just like he did with his beloved golf game.

“He would be grinning,” the elder Smith said of his son. “He liked to be No. 1. He would be proud to be here and be No. 1.

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