Maj. Dean Smith’s daughter Taylor, 18, pins her father’s new badge during a promotional ceremony Thursday. Smith replaces the retired Larry Wilson in one of two second-in-command slots in the Suffolk Police Department.

Archived Story

Major promotion

Published 11:05pm Friday, February 1, 2013

The Suffolk Police Department got a new major in a promotional ceremony on Thursday.

Capt. Dean Smith was advanced to the position, replacing Maj. Larry Wilson, who retired at the end of November.

Two captains, two lieutenants, two sergeants and a senior police officer also celebrated their advancements at the ceremony.

“Tonight is an opportunity for us all to celebrate,” Smith said in his traditional remarks given by the highest-ranking member being promoted in the ceremony. “Our journeys have many twists and turns and occasional bumps in the road. Each role is vitally important to the Suffolk Police Department.”

Smith joined the Suffolk Police Department on Aug. 16, 1989, after working for about a year at the police department in North Augusta, S.C. He was assigned for uniform patrol and remained there after being promoted to sergeant and then to lieutenant.

In February 2004, he was promoted to the rank of captain and served assignments in the administrative services division, both precincts and the criminal investigations division.

Smith also has served as the commanding officer for the department’s SWAT and dive teams and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He has a son, Jared, who is a firefighter in Weatherford, Texas, and an 18-year-old daughter, Taylor, who is a senior in high school and who pinned him during Thursday’s ceremony.

Smith paid tribute to former police chiefs Gilbert Jackson and William Freeman, as well as current Chief Thomas Bennett, during his remarks.

When Jackson first hired him 23 years ago, “I never would have dreamed I would have been here tonight,” he said. “It is my hope that I bring honor to this position.”

Mayor Linda T. Johnson and City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn honored the promotees with their remarks.

“Each one of them has touched the lives of citizens and fellow officers alike in ways that we will probably never even know,” Johnson said.

“We believe in you, and we have confidence you will do an extraordinary job,” Cuffee-Glenn said.

Other promotees were as follows:

  • Capt. Gerald Brandsasse, who joined the department in 1992 and has served in uniform patrol, as a field training officer and as a SWAT commander. He currently serves in the administrative division.
  • Capt. Robert Ross, who joined the department in 1989. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech. He was named Officer of the Year in 1991 and has served as a detective and in the Criminal Investigations division.
  • Lt. Margaret Earls, who joined the department in 1998. She has served in uniform patrol, as a detective, a general instructor, a member of the department’s applicant review board and a team leader with the Crisis Negotiation Team.
  • Lt. Fred Cunningham, who joined the department in 1990. He has served in uniform patrol, as a Level 3 Fatality Crash Investigator, a field training officer and a firearms instructor. He was one of the founding members of the department’s bicycle patrol and was the first Fugitive Unit sergeant.
  • Sgt. Cheryl Balzer, who joined the department in 2004. She has served in uniform patrol and the detective bureau, where she was assigned to the Youth and Family Services division. She also serves on the honor guard, was the Crime Line coordinator and is a trained hostage negotiator. She was Officer of the Quarter in 2012.
  • Sgt. Robert Fahrman, who joined the department in 2007. He has served in uniform patrol, on the Neighborhood Enforcement Team and on the SWAT team.
  • Senior Police Officer Terri Reynolds, who joined the department in 2006. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is working on her master’s degree. She has served in uniform patrol and the Marine Patrol Unit. She has also served as a field training officer and evidence technician.
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