Local 5’s exit interview with Green Bay Police Chief Smith, reminiscing and looking to the future

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis.(WFRV)- After 5-years as Green Bay’s Top Cop, Andrew Smith is retiring from the Department and law enforcement. “I started in Los Angeles on June 27, 1988, that was an interesting time,” said Smith. In an interview with Local 5’s Eric Richards, Smith reflects on his time within law enforcement and his last few years in Green Bay. While at the LAPD, Smith spent time in the Community Relations Department. He had reached the retirement age for L.A. and then received a call from his mom about the opportunity. “So I’m sitting in LA and my mom calls me up on the phone and she’s reading the local paper and tells me they are looking for a Chief in Green Bay,” said Smith. One of the career goals of his was to become a Chief in Green Bay.

Fifty people including Smith applied for the job and on February 1, 2016 he was sworn in a Chief. One of the first things he did when he got the job was getting to know all of the officers. “I tried to get to know everyone that I could. I got to a point when I could go to roll call and go down the list and call everyone by name,” said Smith.

In October of 2018, Officers with the Green Bay Police Department shot and killed Johnathon Tubby while he was in Police custody. This was one of the defining moments within Smith’s career in Green Bay. The incident lead to marches and vigils throughout the city. While Smith cannot talk about the specific details of the incident due to pending litigation, he does acknowledge the impact that it has had on the community and department. “It was a tragic situation all the way around and with the loss of life of anyone is a tragedy. It was very difficult for some parts of our community and I know it was very challenging,” said Smith.

Another challenge for the department is finding suitable candidates for patrol. At a time when officer-involved incidents are at the forefront, recruitment is down for many departments including Green Bay. Many who apply are disqualified due to various reasons. “We give them the best equipment that we can make. We only hire those officers who have the best character that are the best suited for the job,” said Smith.

The Police and Fire Commission is in charge of selecting the next Chief for the City of Green Bay. On an interim basis, James Runge will lead the department. One of the candidates Smith would like to see in the spot is Commander Kevin Warych, who has worked side by side with Smith for years. “It’s very humbling to hear that because it goes to show that my countless efforts of sometimes working seven days a week and countless hours during the day haven’t gone unnoticed,” said Warych. In recalling moments on the job with Smith, Warych says it was about the community and finding solutions to problems. “He is very outgoing, very community-oriented and is very much about what’s going on in the community,” said Warych.

There are programs that Smith would like to see continue within the department like the mental health officers and social workers program. “If there is one thing that I think works, it’s having specially trained officers and social workers to deal with people who are in a mental health crisis. We have seen time and time again across the country, disasters happen because people are having a crisis and it doesn’t get handled exactly as well as it could be,” said Smith. Runge was sworn in as interim Chief on Monday May 3, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

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