When Darren Smithers retired after 23 years with the Bay City Police Department, he didn’t plan on ever being in a police uniform again.
Things have changed. He’s now looking forward to wearing a Huron County Sheriff’s Office uniform to serve as the school security officer at Laker Schools.
“I’m very excited to have this opportunity,” said Smithers, whose wife, Amy, is a third grade teacher at Laker Elementary. “I’m looking forward to building relationships and trust with the kids. I’m also looking forward to working with the staff and making the school a safer place.”
For most of his years in Bay City, Smithers served as a school liaison officer, so he has a lot of experience in working in a school setting.
“When i started in law enforcement, I wanted to make a difference and help people,” he said. “After the first few months of working the road, I realized I wasn’t helping people as much as I wanted to. I was like an aspirin – I’d fix the headache for tonight, but tomorrow, the headache would be right back (if the person got out of jail). In the school, I had an opportunity to spend quality time with the kids and actually make more of a difference.”
Smithers will work part time at Lakers as an employee of the Huron County Sheriff’s Office. In addition to providing security, he will teach secondary school students about the dangers of alcohol and drug use, and he’ll explain the laws that relate to using drugs and alcohol.
“I want to educate the students on the reasons behind the laws,” he noted.
Smithers said his goal is to build relationships with students and staff so they feel comfortable telling him about any issues they’re dealing with or if they notice another student dealing with issues. This type of open communication and trust is an important element of preventing school violence and the tragedies that result, he said.
He wants students to feel comfortable opening up to him.
“I’ve been exposed to many situations and scenarios, so there’s nothing they can tell me that I haven’t seen before,” he said.
Smithers, who has two children who attend Lakers, wants young people to realize that policemen and women are people, too, and students shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out to police when they need help.