On April 4, we buried Bruce Smith and a giant hole was left in "The Thin Blue Line," for a Great American Hero had departed us. After 27 dedicated years of protecting the businesses and citizens of this town, I was stunned and embarrassed to see more police and fire vehicles leave the funeral home than private cars. Where were the city officials, business, and community leaders that Bruce protected for all those years?
Across the city there was not one sign to at least say "Prayers for Bruce Smith's Family." But let the football or basketball team play a game and every business and front yard has a sign. When did our priorities go so wrong? Bruce gave 27 of his finest years to this town, and we couldn't find two spare hours on April 4 to honor him? Maybe in my 37 years in New Martinsville, I had it too good, for I worked for the finest company and had the best boss in the world. For in the best time and during my worst illness, Dave always had my back.
We live in the finest town in the United States. We don't have murders, robberies, drive-by shootings, and you don't have to worry if your wives or daughters will be raped. This is New Martinsville, not Steubenville. For that, you can thank the dedicated men and women of the New Martinsville Police Department. They are one of the lowest paid departments in the state. They are understaffed, work long hours, and they should not be underappreciated. Like most towns, we have a drug problems, but parents, if your "little darlings" quit buying that crap, the drug dealers would have no reason to slither into our town. Don't blame the police!
Yes, Bruce's death left a mighty gap in the "Thin Blue Line." They will survive. They will thrive.
"Headquarters to Unit 6.
Patrolman Bruce Smith, you are an officer that served with pride, courage, honor, and integrity on behalf of the citizens of the community and the New Martinsville Police Department. We thank you for your years of dedication and service.
This is the last call for Patrolman Bruce Smith. All units be advised no response received.
Headquarters to all units. Unit 6 Patrolman Bruce Smith is 10-42."
From the tears of my soul,
Earl W. Smith