It is a new year and an exciting new set of challenges for Lt. Carlos Smith, the new post commander at the Marietta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The move will be a big change for Smith, 39, who previously served as a sergeant at the Canton Post.
“I come from an urban area and this is a very rural area. While the mission is the same, it is going to be quite different,” he said..
The biggest adjustment, he said, will be learning how to best serve the members of the small community.
And though Smith stepped into the new position less than a month ago, he already has some goals he would like to accomplish.
“I’m very community minded. I want our patrol post to be more involved in the community,” he said.
Specifically, Smith hopes to expand community education programs such as the Community Shield program, which provides training for members of the general public how to identify possible criminal behavior on Ohio’s roadways and then alert the Patrol by dialing #677.
Smith is filling the vacancy left when former post commander Mary Pfeifer took a position as the patrol’s commander for License and Commercial Standards at the end of November. Pfeifer had been post commander for 14 years in Marietta.
“People down here seem to really want the post to be here,” Smith said, “They appreciate what we’re doing. To me, that’s a testament to the previous post commander. It shows me that these guys already have the right vision.”
That is good news for Smith, whose favorite part of the job is simply serving the public.
“To me it’s seeing that smile on a stranded motorist’s face when you stop to help them get gas, or give them a ride, or help them fix a flat tire,” he said.
Smith’s started with the OSHP in 1998, after serving almost five years in the United States Air Force.
An unlikely incident sparked Smith’s desire to be a trooper, he said.
“I was driving home from Wright State and I got stopped by a trooper. He was just very, very professional,” said Smith.
Though the trooper issued him a citation, his demeanor left such an impression on Smith that he decided he wanted to pursue a career in the OSHP as well.
In his career, Smith has spent time at the Jackson Post, the Massillon Post, the Wilmington Post, the Medina Post, and most recently the Canton Post, where he will be missed, said Trooper Otis Smith.
“He’s very charismatic, easy going, helpful, just real easy to work with. His presence will be missed,” said Otis, who has worked with Carlos throughout his 11 years with the OSHP.
For now, Smith is commuting almost two hours one way to Marietta from his home near Canton.
“I like the commute. It lets me clear my head and reflect on my day,” he said.
However, he does not plan on getting too used to the lengthy drive. Carlos, his wife, and their five children plan on finding a permanent home in Marietta in the spring, after his children are finished with the school year, and after his wife, Carrie, graduates Malone University with a degree as a nurse practitioner.
“They had the chance to visit the post once and they are excited about being closer to their cousins. My wife’s family is from outside of Athens,” he said.
As for future plans: “I plan on staying in Marietta as long as the community will have me. We plan on making a great impact here,” he said.