BY LOGAN MCCOURNTEY –
Seth Smith balances the rare blend of seriousness and laughter, which may seem like polar opposites, but for a career that requires him to struggle the stresses of law enforcement while being a public servant, Seth has found the perfect equation.
Seth grew up in Polk County and attended Mena Public Schools. Upon graduation from high school in 2002, he joined the National Guard assigned to the local Charlie Company. “I heard guys that had joined talking about shooting automatic guns and throwing grenades in training. Like any guy in high school, I jumped on the opportunity,” recalls Seth laughing. During his time serving our country, Seth was deployed several times including Iraq, as well as search and rescue after Hurricane Katrina. “I never knew that I would be deployed so much, especially being in the Guard. I’m thankful that I had the opportunities that I did,” says Seth.
As if he wasn’t already serving enough, Seth went to the Fire Academy during his time with the guard. Until this year, Seth had been serving as a volunteer at the Mena Fire Department. He has such a heart for this community and serving the people here. “I wanted to keep serving with the fire department, but didn’t feel like I could give enough of my time. Even though it’s volunteer, I wanted to give more, but obligations at the department and to my family require more time,” explains Seth. He and his wife, Jessica, a teacher at Mena Middle School are expecting their first child at the beginning of February.
While serving our country and community, Seth started school at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith [UAFS] and worked to earn his Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. “I have been really fortunate to have some of the opportunities that I have just because of where I was serving. During my school, I was an intern for the US Marshal Service, it was pretty awesome,” recalls Seth with a grin.
Seth’s career in Polk County as law enforcement was unexpected. “I was approached by Scott Sawyer and another deputy that said they were wanting to get the reserve class going again and my name came up. I told them that I had never really saw myself with the police,” says Seth. After this conversation, he started going to ride with Scott and others and got hooked. “I started riding and from day one I was hooked. I loved it,” explains Seth smiling. After getting on as a reserve in 2007, he did different jobs like working the fair, rodeo, and patrolling Shady. On top of these obligations, Seth continued to ride along with the deputies. During this time, Seth also worked at the jail and dispatch for about six months before being called back to Iraq. “I loved being a reserve, it was a lot of fun and allowed me the flexibility to continue going to school and also work when I needed to,” says Seth. He became a reserve in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Seth came on full time. Seth explains, “Buck Bailey had just retired and they had approached me about filling his spot. Everybody knew Buck and he did such a great job, I had big shoes to fill.”
Although his path to law enforcement may have seemed odd to himself, Seth has met every expectation, plus some, since arriving on the scene. His hard work can be evidenced everywhere around him and people have taken notice, specifically, Sheriff Scott Sawyer. Scott recently promoted Seth to Sergeant of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, a position that hasn’t been filled for many years. “It was such an honor. It was an honor that Scott would consider me for the position. I don’t feel like I did anything to earn it, I was just doing my job,” says Seth thankfully.
Not only is Seth the new Sergeant, but he may also have the coolest partner in the Sheriff’s Office. Seth is the handler and trainer of the newest member of the local law enforcement, ‘Otto’, a two-year old golden Labrador Retriever. “I think that he is now the most liked deputy in the county. It doesn’t matter where I go now, everybody asks about Otto,” jokes Seth. Otto provides an opportunity for Seth to be in the schools and interact with the kids, something that he excels at. “It’s great, the kids feel like we are approachable and that’s exactly what we want them to know. We are here to help,” explains Seth. He is very thankful for the community we are in that supports the law enforcement so much. Seth says, “We are fortunate to have the kind of support that we do. Living in a community like this makes our job easier.”
Seth loves serving the people of Polk County, he also loves having fun while he does it. “What I do is a blast. To think that this is my job? This is great, it’s a great place to be and work,” says Seth with a smile. It would be hard for somebody to be around Seth and not enjoy his zeal for work and his good sense of humor. Men like Seth are who make it possible to enjoy the freedom and protection that we do.