Pictured above Joel Smith
For the first time in the Niagara Falls Police Department’s 129-year history, an African American has been promoted to the rank of a command officer. That took place when Patrol Officer Joel N. Smith was appointed to serve as a Lieutenant last week.
Smith, a 10-year plus veteran of the police department, grew up in Buffalo’s Riverside area. The son of WUFO’s Brother Jimmy Smith, he told WIVB News that he hoped to change the narrative between police and citizens of color for the better.
During an interview with Jomo Akono on Access-To-A-Free-Ka he elaborated on the importance of making empathy and understanding an important tool in dealing with all those he was sworn to protect and serve, particularly communities of color.
“It’s important to display professionalism at all cost…,” he said. ” I can treat you with respect and still maintain my officer safety tactics,” he said confidently.”I’ll always exemplify professionalism, service and community policing.” Leading by example, his goal will be to make sure that those under his command do the same.
Lt. Smith said he was looking forward to leading and was thankful to be in his new position.
“Its up to us to bring calm to a storm… using empathy and understanding.
Smith started in law enforcement as a school resource officer.
He joined the Niagara Falls Police in 2009.