Blue has a special meaning
Chief Duane Smith wears blue every day, whether he's in a uniform or not. A colon cancer survivor, the Euharlee Police Chief said he wears a blue ribbon on his wrist daily.
"Breast Cancer has a pink ribbon, and we wear blue for colon cancer," he said.
But long before he was diagnosed with cancer, he suited up in blue. Chief Smith said all Euharlee police cars will fly blue ribbons from their antennas, and he's asking the citizens to do the same.
"We don't have any ceremonies planned, but [we] will go in conjunction with other agencies that may do something since we are a smaller city," he said.
Born in Bowling Green, Fla., Smith moved to Cartersville 20 years ago. He is married to Michelle Smith and is the father of two sons.
As a teenager, Smith made the decision to become a policeman. "My father was in law enforcement and I wanted to follow in his footsteps," Smith said.
After graduating in 1982 from Hardee Senior High School, Smith served in the Marine Corps for 10 years. He has served with the Bartow County Sheriff's Office and the Cartersville Police Department. Smith joined the Euharlee Police Department five years ago and became chief in 2008. There are 10 officers on the EPD. Smith said if he wasn't a policeman he'd still be serving in the Marine Corps.
One misconception Smith would like to clear up about police officers is that they only deal with the public in bad situations. "My belief is to treat people the way you want to be treated if you can. Sometimes they don't allow you to do that," Smith said. He added policemen are humans and have feelings, too.
"We do have compassion. A lot [of] what we do with our job is business, not personal. Some people take it out of context," he said. Smith said policemen volunteer their time at charity events, motorcycle rides, cancer rides and donate a lot of their time to help others.
Destined to be a caretaker
Chief Thomas Culpepper knew as a little boy that he was inclined to a life of public service.
"Military and law enforcement seemed to have an attraction for me," Culpepper said.
A native of Rome, Culpepper's police career stretches throughout Georgia. He has worked as an investigator with the Acworth Police Department and has also worn uniforms for Georgia Regional Hospital, Emerson Police Department and the State Capitol.
He came to the Cartersville Police Department in 1978. He left and returned shortly after. Culpepper has been with the CPD for 26 years, serving as chief since 2007.
In conjunction with National Police Week, some officers from CPD will participate in a memorial service held at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth County. In addition, the department will fly blue ribbons from their car antennas. Culpepper said the department hasn't loss a policeman in the line of duty since 1930 when Chief of Police Joe Ben Jenkins was killed. His picture hangs in the station. Culpepper said he loves everything about his job.
"I like serving the public, I like being involved in something bigger than just me," he said. Culpepper said it's a great feeling knowing what he does as a profession matters and it's not just a paycheck.
"It's like water, everybody finds their own level. Some people like to focus on one thing in law enforcement, and I believe you should be well rounded," he said.
There is a lot of turmoil that comes with being a police chief. Culpepper said he can deal with the turmoil from the public, but with his officers it's different.
"People get unhappy and leave, [then] you have to go through that hiring process," he said.
He added, "Going through the hiring process is what I like least. Because it always comes on the heels of turmoil with someone leaving, especially if there is a good officer that leaves," he said. "It doesn't matter if they retire or get tired of the profession."
Culpepper said those problems create instability in the organization to a certain degree and that can hamper the service to the public. "You have to move people around," he said. "It doesn't just affect one person, [but] I accept the plus and minus with the job," Culpepper said.
There are 64 policemen on the CPD's force. Culpepper said contrary to what people think, all policemen don't eat doughnuts. Culpepper also wanted to clear up the misconception about policemen in small cities.
"Sometimes people feel like there is not any danger to the job because we are not packed like a large metropolitan area, so it's not as dangerous." Culpepper said. "The South leads the nation in officers killed in the line of duty," he said.
There are advantages to leading a small city that Culpepper enjoys.
"In an area like Cartersville, when you are able to provide a good level of service and you have a lot of people who are committed to the job," he said. Culpepper said he's working hard now so the next person doesn't have to. "I view my position as a caretaker," he said. "My destiny is to be a person that deals with issues as they come up so that when I'm gone the next person in line has fewer things to deal with." He added, "They can continue to progress the agency," Culpepper said.
Govern by the law
Chief David King, 53, was born and raised in the city he now protects -- White.
King started his law enforcement career in 1992 with the Adairsville Police Department.
"I always had an interest in law enforcement," said King who has been chief since 2000.
There are four officers on White's force, including King.
He said they will fly blue ribbons on their cars in honor of National Policeman Week and asks the same of the citizens. King said if there was one misconception about policemen he could clear up it would be how people think about the legal system. "The law is what governs us. A lot of time people don't understand how that works with the legal system," King said.
King, a father and grandfather, has plans to stay in the law career once he retires.
"I'd like to be an attorney," said King. "Practicing criminal law is an option once I retire," he said.
See Tuesday's paper for profiles on Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap, Emerson Police Chief Stan Bradley, Kingston Police Chief Walter Harrell and Adairsville Assistant Police Chief Ronnie Raines.