SIERRA VISTA — Former Phoenix lawman Allen Smith has taken the reins at SEACOM (Southeastern Arizona Communications Center) and after just one week at the controls, the former police commander answered a few questions for the Herald/Review.
Herald/Review: How did you land in Sierra Vista?
Allen Smith: I had retired after a 31-year plus career with Phoenix P.D. I retired in December 2016. I was home in Chandler. My wife and I talked. I still have a lot left in the tank. I was looking for positions. I saw this (opening). I started making inquiries. The more I learned about it, I saw it fit my strengths.
HR: How long were you a commander with Phoenix Police?
AS: I was a commander for just shy of 10 years. I had some really good experiences, some great jobs. The duty commander position works hand in hand with communications. I had my office in communications. That experience will help me here.
HR: How did you become a police officer?
AS: I’m 57 years old. So what probably what prompted me to get into law enforcement was too many episodes of “Adam-12” growing up. After high school, I went into the Air Force. Helped serve with the Army in Germany. I got out of the military, started school. Some opportunities came up with law enforcement and I thought, “This is good.”
HR: Sierra Vista is a lot smaller than Phoenix. How do you like it so far?
AS: I like it a lot. I haven’t had that much time these days as I get situated. But the more I see, the more I like. My wife and I came down a few weeks ago, and looked at different places where we want to live. So, we’re taking a look. It’s very nice down here. There’s better traffic here.
HR: Do you have any goals set out for SEACOM?
AS: Honestly, I don’t. “I’ve got to learn. I’ve got to see what’s going on. There’s some really good people. I’ve just got to get a handle and talk to them. I’m not going to come in and (change things) ... that’s not what we do. I have to learn what happens, why things are done a certain way. I’m just sitting back and learning. The goals will come.
HR: Where are you from?
AS: Born in Phoenix.
HR: Do you have children?
AS: I have an adult son, a daughter who is 17 and a son who is 15. They’re going to school in Chandler.
HR: What has your first week been like?
AS: A lot of meetings and learning and talking to different people. Talking to people in Sierra Vista and talking to people in the county. Talking to everybody I can at this point. Thursday I was in interviews for the dispatch trainee. We are a couple of positions down, so the hiring process is a priority.
HR: How important is the Communications Center to law enforcement?
AS: It’s critical. This is the point where the information comes in. We have to take it down, dispatch it, get it out to the first responders. The dispatchers have to record it all, they have to get it entered for the record. It’s a very, very challenging job. This is the hub if you will. It all comes in here and it goes out. But it doesn’t end there. The dispatchers have to be aware of where the officers, deputies and firefighters are. They have to know what’s going on and keep updates on their status.
HR: If you have any free time, what do you like to do?
AS: I enjoy golf. But being retired for those many years, there’s (only) so much golf you can play. But I enjoy playing golf. I may get into hiking and biking.
HR: What word would you use to describe your first week at SEACOM?
AS: Education. That’s me getting educated on how things go.