Montgomery County deputy wins national award

Montgomery County deputy wins national award
Cpl. Steve Smith has spent more than 35 years in law enforcement, but it was the other "hat" he wears that earned national recognition.
It was Smith who started the chaplaincy program, the same program he started with the Montgomery Police Department more than 20 years ago. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
It was Smith who started the chaplaincy program, the same program he started with the Montgomery Police Department more than 20 years ago. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - It's one for the wall, a plaque and a certificate commemorating Steve Smith's selection as National Chaplain of the Year handed down by the National Sheriff's Association.

Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham nominated Smith for the award.

"Truly a man of God. If you have any conversation with him, you'll see that. He can deal with all facets of our community," said Cunningham.

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office has three chaplains, but Cpl. Smith is the only one who is both a sworn officer and chaplain. He is there when a fellow deputy needs someone to talk to, which is quite often.

"Sometimes a deputy just needs someone to talk to and unload," said Smith.

You may wonder how it's possible for a veteran lawman who's job is to enforce the law can also be someone who spreads the Good News. Smith reconciled the two jobs years ago.

"In law enforcement you have to get tough sometimes," Smith said.

In fact, when Montgomery Police Officer J.R. Ward was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1994, Smith was a police officer at the Montgomery Police Department. He was troubled Montgomery police didn't have a chaplaincy program at the time, so Smith started one.

"And so we started that over there. Now it's grown to the fire department," Smith said.

A deputy and a chaplain, the two go hand-in-hand for Steve Smith. Smith is convinced beyond all doubt he answered the call and never looked back.

Because of Smith's efforts, the chaplaincy program has now grown to become the River Region Chaplain's Service that serves 11 different agencies.

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