Myrtle Beach police officer Chris Smith is fulfilling a childhood dream and on Monday he was recognized as one of the department’s finest with the Officer Joe McGarry Memorial Police Officer of the Year 2014 award.
Smith, an eight-year veteran of the department and a patrolman first class, was among seven officers nominated for the award, which is in its 49th year and presented by the Myrtle Beach Rotary Club.
“It means heard work pays off and I’m extremely honored to have been nominated,” Smith said after receiving the award Monday during a luncheon at the Ocean Reef Resort. “Myrtle Beach Police Department has a group of some of the best police officers around. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with the best.”
Other officers nominated this year for the award include Cpl. Jeremiah Beam, Investigator Lester Cook, PFC Shon McCluskey, PFC Stephen Andrew Thackray, PFC Christopher Tyndall and Cpl. Tiffany Whitmire.
Smith’s wife, Allison Smith, along with their two children, 3-year-old Maci and 11-month-old Jase , also attended Monday’s awards.
“I’m very proud of him. He worked very hard and he definitely deserves it,” Allison Smith said while she held their young son. “All the officers work hard and are a good team together. I’m proud of them all.”
Smith said his father retired as a police officer in Baltimore and it was long his dream to be a police officer and “following his father’s footsteps.”
Smith is a member of the Myrtle Beach Police Department’s street crimes unit and is a K9 officer with his partner, Alli. He also works with the SWAT team and has been recognized for his work in the arrest of two people in connection with four armed robberies in the city in March.
Smith also said he hopes to work and expand the department’s K9 team. Smith deployed Alli 102 times during criminal investigations and that included 79 vehicle searches in which drugs were found in 55 of those, officials said.
Alli working with Smith has found 10 pounds of marijuana, four grams of cocaine, 26 grams of crack cocaine, 13 grams of heroin and 22 other drugs.
Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach, presented a resolution honoring Smith.
“You have been heralded as a great officer,” Rankin said as he made his presentation to Smith. “You have distinguished yourself and you have distinguished Myrtle Beach with your service, dedication and I would say your smile.”
With headlines of police officers being under a microscope for their actions in dealing with the public, Rankin said it “is a difficult and challenging time” for officers.
“To all the officers who have been nominated, nothing against you, but this guy has a winning smile,” Rankin said.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or on Twitter @tonyaroot.