There’s a new sheriff in town
It’s official. The Summit County Council appointed Frank Smith as the new Summit County Sheriff Monday night.
Sheriff Frank Smith fills the vacancy left by Justin Martinez, Utah’s new U.S. Marshal.
Smith was the sole applicant for the position, according to the Summit County Democratic Party. County delegates voted via email ballot last Thursday.
Turnout was 39%, and 100% of the delegates who did vote nominated Smith for the position. Monday, the Summit County Council voted unanimously to confirm him.
Smith said, at most, the department will see minor tweaks under his leadership.
“No changes in the way we police,” Smith said last week on KPCW’s Local Newshour. “I think the community-oriented ‘Be kind to your neighbor and be tough on criminals’ is the way to police.”
He said he’d like to use technology and patrol officers to aid school safety. Smith also wants to prioritize outreach to Latino immigrant communities around the county.
“I think there's crimes in that community that they’re afraid to report because they don't understand we have no interest in deporting them. We just want to keep them safe.”
Smith has been at the Summit County Sheriff’s Office for about eight years. He spent 34 years at various law enforcement organizations before that.
He began his career at the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina, and he was a Georgia State Police Officer. After that, he joined the Drug Enforcement Administration.
He rose through the ranks of the DEA, eventually heading the Foreign Advisory Support Team in Afghanistan. He also led DEA deployments in Tajikistan, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
He came to Utah to take a position at the DEA’s Salt Lake City District Office, where he was Assistant Special Agent in Charge, the third-highest rank in the district office.
When Martinez became sheriff in 2015, he asked Smith to be his chief deputy.
“In my previous career, we had an effect, but it was at that 30,000-foot level. You'd seize a boatload of cocaine from Colombia; well, eventually it affects us here, but you don't see the effect. Where here [in Summit County] a neighbor can call me and have an issue and you get to see the results of that work,” Smith said. “It's very rewarding to me.”
Smith’s appointment means the chief deputy position is vacant. He will announce his second-in-command at a later date.
“It's someone that's very trusted and very competent,” he said.
Former Sheriff Martinez’ third four-year term was set to expire in 2026, and until President Joe Biden nominated Martinez for U.S. Marshal, Smith had been planning to serve with him until then and subsequently retire.
Now that he’s sheriff, he said he’d like to see the job through until 2026. For that to happen, he’d need to be elected in 2024.
The winner of that election would serve a two-year term to get back on schedule with the rest of Utah’s sheriffs, who are elected every four years. Sheriff Smith said, right now, he plans to run.