COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A fallen hero’s son is following in his father’s footsteps.
CPD SWAT Officer Steve Smith was killed in a standoff last year in Clintonville. On Friday, his son Officer Jessie Smith, graduated with the 127th recruit class from the Columbus Police Academy.
“I feel like it’s been a long time coming,” said Smith. “I always imagined this day ever since I was a little kid wearing my dad’s hat and pretending to be the police in our backyard.”
He graduated alongside 47 men and women, including 31 CPD officers, 14 from other local agencies and two Columbus Division of Fire arson investigators.
Smith received his father’s badge during the ceremony.
“It’s like a overwhelming sense of honor,” he said. “My dad left, in my opinion, a legacy here and this is my opportunity to step in and carry on that legacy.”
Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said Smith is following in the footsteps of a great man.
“Every family that has a law enforcement officer recognizes that there are dangers, but it’s been very real to Jessie and his wife and his mother and his sister,” she said. “I’m very proud of him. I’m very proud of his family for letting him do this, really dream that he’s had for a long time knowing that there is danger, but knowing that again there is no better work.”
Mayor Andrew Ginther, among other city officials spoke before the graduating recruits.
“Thank you for accepting the challenge,” said Mayor Ginther. “There has never been a more dangerous or difficult time to be a police officer in America.”
New OSU police officer Aaron Patterson believes now is a crucial time to serve.
“I think that you need people to answer that call, wiling to protect and serve, put their needs aside and help others in the community,” said Patterson. “I think this is a perfect time to become a police officer.”
Another officer, 52-year-old Gilbert Leffler graduated from the Academy back in 1990. He retired after 9/11 to pursue another calling and is back again to finish out his career.
“I just about started crying over there because I realized these are people that I have literally fought with and one of those individuals saved my life,” said Leffler. “I’m thrilled to be back in the uniform.”
Chief Jacobs said this is the first recruit class where each officer got CIT or Crisis Intervention Training before they even begin to serve and protect.