(Posted March 25, 2016)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
West Jefferson Police Sgt. Brandon Smith doesn’t feel like a Hometown Hero. He maintains he and Arc were just doing their job.
“Protecting someone’s person, peace of mind, while instilling their faithfulness, in policing is a reward that is unsurpassed,” he said as he and his K-9 partner of the past three years received the monthly award from Columbus radio station WSNY-(Sunny 95) and CME Federal Credit Union.
Smith and Arc were selected for their action in apprehending a serial bank robber last September in Dublin. Smith spoke vaguely of the operations since the award was presented March 21, the day before the suspect was to be sentenced in a Franklin County Court.
Smith and several other undercover units from different jurisdictions had the suspected serial bank robber under surveillance. The bank robber had enough robberies to warrant the FBI’s involve-ment in a multi-agency task force.
Smith said they followed the car, which had four passengers in it, on I-270 and into Dublin on State Route 161.
“They appeared to be casing three banks,” Smith said, adding that the units spaced themselves out near banks. It so happened that the bank Smith chose to watch was the one the robbers chose.
One undercover officer followed the bank robber inside and when he notified others of the robber, Smith and Arc were ready.
“He came out on a run at full speed,” Smith said of the bank robber. “He came face-to-face with us.”
“I heard him say ‘O.K.’ very softly because he had his disguise on,” said Smith, who handcuffed the suspect.
Undercover work is just one of Smith’s many tasks as a member of his department’s detective unit.
He joined the department in 2007 and worked the road and bike patrol before being assigned to the detective unit in 2012. He also works for the Madison County Major Crimes Unit.
“I discovered quickly the need for a police K-9 program,” he said.
Smith and Arc have worked together for nearly three years. Arc’s main jobs are drug sniffing and apprehending suspects. During his tenure, his work has led to the seizure of more than $300,000 of drug-related currency and extensive amounts of illicit drugs leading back to drug cartels, Smith said. Arc also has aided in the apprehension of 18 suspects without biting any of them.
West Jefferson Mayor Ray Martin, on hand for the award presentation, asked how the apprehension of the bank robber in Dublin benefits West Jefferson.
“It shows how different departments work together,” Smith said. “It could have happened here in West Jefferson.”
The cooperation of several departments working together was an example of the mutual aid that West Jefferson lends.
“They’d come to our assistance if we need it,” Smith said.
Smith said the robber was out on parole after serving time for other bank robberies at the time of the apprehension. He said it appeared he was teaching his three companions how to rob banks.
The accused robber had exhausted all of his continuances and was to be sentenced March 23. The other three suspects had already been sentenced.
Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott gave Smith and Arc an Award of Commendation for the apprehension.
While Smith was talking about his duties, Arc was busy doing his: sniffing around the guests that also included West Jefferson village council president Steve Johnston, council members Randy Otis, Doug Eakins and Herman Stanley, and finance director Debbie DiLeo.
Smith and Arc were nominated for the Hometown Hero award by Dan Walker, a former West Jefferson auxiliary officer and son of former public service director, Harold Walker.