Wilson honors Capt. Reggie Smith's life and legacy | The Wilson Times
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WILSON POLICE DEPARTMENT

Wilson honors Capt. Reggie Smith's life and legacy

Posted on January 10, 2022

Updated on January 16, 2022

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Detective Reggie Smith of the Wilson Police Department speaks during an anti-gang conference held at Farmington Heights Church in 2012.

Times file photo

Detective Reggie Smith of the Wilson Police Department speaks during an anti-gang conference held at Farmington Heights Church in 2012.

Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.

Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.

Wilson police officers and their family members console one another after a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith passed the police department on Saturday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Wilson police officers and their family members console one another after a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith passed the police department on Saturday.

Wilson Fire/Rescue Services suspends a large flag in front of Stevens Funeral Home for the late Capt. Reggie Smith on Saturday. Smith, a popular police officer, died last week.

Olivia Neeley | Times

Wilson Fire/Rescue Services suspends a large flag in front of Stevens Funeral Home for the late Capt. Reggie Smith on Saturday. Smith, a popular police officer, died last week.

Emotion is visible on Wilson police Sgt. Licia Batchelor’s face as she salutes during a Saturday procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Emotion is visible on Wilson police Sgt. Licia Batchelor’s face as she salutes during a Saturday procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith.

Detective Reggie Smith holds up a picture of 7-year-old Kamari Jones, who lost his life to gang-related violence in July 2014, during an anti-bullying and gang prevention presentation held later that year.

Gray Whitley | Times file photo

Detective Reggie Smith holds up a picture of 7-year-old Kamari Jones, who lost his life to gang-related violence in July 2014, during an anti-bullying and gang prevention presentation held later that year.

Wilson police Officer A. Arnold embraces Sgt. Licia Batchelor after a memorial procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith passed them on Saturday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Wilson police Officer A. Arnold embraces Sgt. Licia Batchelor after a memorial procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith passed them on Saturday.

Detective Reggie Smith of the Wilson Police Department speaks during an anti-gang conference held at Farmington Heights Church in 2012.

Times file photo

Detective Reggie Smith of the Wilson Police Department speaks during an anti-gang conference held at Farmington Heights Church in 2012.

Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.

Drew C. Wilson | Times

Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.

Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.
Wilson police officers and other onlookers line Goldsboro Street as a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith arrives at the Wilson Police Department on Saturday.
Wilson police officers and their family members console one another after a procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith passed the police department on Saturday.
Wilson Fire/Rescue Services suspends a large flag in front of Stevens Funeral Home for the late Capt. Reggie Smith on Saturday. Smith, a popular police officer, died last week.
Emotion is visible on Wilson police Sgt. Licia Batchelor’s face as she salutes during a Saturday procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith.
Detective Reggie Smith holds up a picture of 7-year-old Kamari Jones, who lost his life to gang-related violence in July 2014, during an anti-bullying and gang prevention presentation held later that year.
Wilson police Officer A. Arnold embraces Sgt. Licia Batchelor after a memorial procession for the late Capt. Reggie Smith passed them on Saturday.
Detective Reggie Smith of the Wilson Police Department speaks during an anti-gang conference held at Farmington Heights Church in 2012.

olivia@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7879

Wilson police Capt. Reggie Smith had a servant’s heart. He loved to help people, he respected others and he could make people feel special no matter where they were in life.

“I used to tell him all the time that being a police officer fit him perfectly,” said Smith’s wife, Adrienne. “He loved giving back to people and bringing joy to others’ lives. That was his passion and his heart.”

Community members are still grieving Smith’s loss. The 43-year-old died from a medical condition while in the line of duty, city officials said Friday.

Smith, who began as a patrol officer and worked his way through the ranks, served the Wilson Police Department for nearly 23 years. A memorial procession was held Saturday honoring the man whose heart was as wide as his smile.

“He wanted to reach others and touch someone else’s life and make life better for them,” Smith’s wife said. “He was light.”

Since her husband’s death last week, Adrienne Smith said many people have told her stories about how he touched their lives.

“It fills my heart with so much love and joy,” she said. “What he’s done will live on for years to come.”

‘ONCE IN A LIFETIME’ FRIEND

Smith’s fellow officers escorted his body from Vidant Medical Center in Greenville through Wilson on Saturday, passing by the police department where the American flag was lowered to half staff.

Police officers and residents lined the street in front of the police department. They stood with hands over their hearts to honor Smith’s service.

The procession ended at Stevens Funeral Home, where Wilson Fire/Rescue Services suspended a large American flag from a ladder truck.

“Reggie is a friend that comes along once in a lifetime,” said Wilson Police Chief Scott Biddle. “Not just for me, but for the city of Wilson. I believe that no one has done more for the youth in Wilson than Reggie Smith. We lost a friend, a brother, a father and an outstanding person. God has called home a great right-hand man.”

Smith was a fixture in the Wilson community, not only for his police work but for his passionate spirit helping others, especially Wilson youth. He was the backbone of the Wilson Police Athletic League program and most recently served as president.

The department’s flagship program offers free youth camps, and the program was a driving force behind what Smith did for the community. He was mentor to numerous young people, Biddle said.

‘NO TELLING HOW MANY KIDS’ LIVES HE’S TOUCHED’

Retired Police Sgt. Bert Garris said Smith was initially recruited as a police officer to work undercover in the drug operations unit. But Smith’s religious beliefs were so strong that he couldn’t change his personality to be deceptive.

“That’s just who he was,” Garris said before Saturday’s procession. “He found his own way to give back.”

Smith would go on to leave a legacy of hope for countless youths. He was mentor, coach and friend, too.

Smith, who eventually became sergeant over the gang unit, went into the school system and spoke about gang prevention. He wanted to lead children down the right path.

“There is no telling how many kids’ lives he’s touched,” Garris said. “It was his personality and the way he treated them that allowed him to have that connection with them. He just cared for them.”

Every time Smith walked into a school auditorium or gym, children’s faces lit up. Smith didn’t need a microphone due to his distinctive,booming voice. The kids would listen attentively to every word he said.

A TRUE CALLING

Retired Police Chief Thomas Hopkins said when he promoted Smith to sergeant over the gang unit, he knew it was the right move.

“He just had the right combination of skills and traits,” Hopkins said. “I felt like he was so effective in dealing with people and building trust. He had the trust of a lot of gang members out there, and he made a significant impact in their lives.”

Hopkins said he and others are still reeling over Smith’s death.

“He was one of my very best friends,” Hopkins said through tears. “He was a very loving person, family person. He just had a way of impacting people in the community, whether it was with kids or citizens. He had a special way connecting with people. That really was his calling.”

‘HE WOULD HAVE MADE A PHENOMENAL POLICE CHIEF’

Hopkins said Smith not only motivated him to get more involved with youth, but he brought that same energy to fellow officers and the department as a whole. When he decided to launch the department’s first youth police academy and mentoring program, Hopkins said Smith stepped up to the plate.

“I needed help with the program,” Hopkins said. “He helped me recruit the kids. I could always depend on him, and he never let me down.”

Hopkins said Smith did the same thing when it came to starting the PAL program.

Hopkins credits Smith with helping him build his own legacy of youth mentorship.

“He really showed me that side of law enforcement,” he said. “He really motivated us to do so much more.”

When police combined the gang unit with the department’s Problem-Oriented Response Team, Hopkins said Smith led the new group.

Smith was promoted to captain in 2018 and most recently was tasked with overseeing the department’s Special Operations Division.

“He would have made a phenomenal police chief,” Hopkins said. “I thank God for Reggie. He lived his life by example. He helped me grow as a law enforcement officer.”

A FAMILY MAN

Smith leaves behind not only his wife of five years but four small children: Riley, 3, Gianna, 2, Nylah, 1, and newborn Rylan, who is 2 ½ months old.

“They were the apple of his eye,” his wife said. “That’s what he looked forward to, spending time with his babies every day. He was such a wonderful, loving and caring man. He gave of himself even to me. He wanted to make sure I was loved, taken care of and I had everything.”

She said while the two weren’t married 10, 20 or even 30 years, it sure felt like it.

“What God allowed us to compact in the time that we spent together, some will never be able to experience that,” she said. “God fulfilled to me what true love really is.”

‘A MAN OF FAITH’

Smith loved the Lord, his wife said.

“He was a man of faith,” she said.

One of Smith’s favorite Bible verses was Matthew 19:26, his wife said.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,’” the verse reads.

Adrienne Smith has had her Bible open to that particular verse over the past few days. She said it’s brought her comfort.

“I think it’s fitting for the occasion,” she said.

‘REGGIE LOVED THE BROTHERHOOD’

Smith’s wife said she’s relied heavily on her faith to make sense of her husband’s loss. She said she’s also grateful to the police department and the Wilson community as a whole for the support she and her family have received.

“I can’t find even find the words to describe how the Wilson Police Department has stepped up and just tried to fill the role of my husband’s shoes,” she said through tears. “They have been a constant support system to me and my babies. It made his heart full to know that his fellow officers did have his back — not just in the field going into danger, but fulfilling the role of fatherhood and being a husband. Reggie loved the brotherhood.”

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