Police & Fire

Laura Smith Named First Female Sergeant in CPD History

2cdc033abf67d8867363_52146_.jpg
Supervisor Ken Schmitt administers the oath to Carmel police officer Laura Smith, promoting her to the rank of sergeant, as her mother, Suzanne Smith, holds the Bible with husband Brian Lena. Credits: Bob Dumas
88da6aef51d0536b0350_52147_.jpg
Laura Smith’s husband, Brian Lena, pins the sergeant badge on her. Credits: Bob Dumas
2cdc033abf67d8867363_52146_.jpg

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Growing up in Mahopac, Laura Smith had no intention of becoming a cop. In fact, the 2002 MHS grad had designs on a career as a physical therapist. She graduated magna cum laude from Towson University with a degree in athletic training.

But things don’t always go as planned. After hearing that the Carmel Police Department had an opening, she decided to throw her hat in the ring. In 2007, she got the job, went through the training and became the first female officer in the history of the department. Last week, some 10 years later, Smith was promoted by the Town Board, becoming the first female sergeant for the Carmel PD.

“I never thought I’d be a police officer,” Smith, 33, told Mahopac News. “When I was 17, I joined the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department right after 9/11 (where she held the ranks of lieutenant and captain). My mom was an ER nurse at Putnam Hospital Center and my dad was volunteer fire chief. My brother was a sergeant for the Kent police, so civic duty was a big part of my family growing up. I went to college and was going to be a physical therapist, but this [opportunity] came around and I thought, ‘Hey, just do it!’”

Sign Up for E-News

Having been a volunteer firefighter, Smith said it was a reasonable transition to becoming a police officer.

“You do a lot of the same things,” she said. “You care for people’s property and for people when they are hurt and sick. And I like being out and about in the community. I took the test and did really, really well.”

Being the first woman on the force, Smith said she knew that she would have to prove herself.

“It was strange at first,” she said. “There were some who welcomed me and there were some who were uncertain. Right off the bat, I had to prove I could hang with the boys physically and personality wise—that they didn’t have to act [differently] around me and that I was one of them. After a few months, I think they realized it was going to be OK; it wasn’t the worst thing that was going to happen. But when I put on the uniform, I am not a female police officer, just a police officer.”

Nonetheless, Smith said that as a woman she believes she brings a unique set of skills to the job.

“I feel like people like to talk to me when they have a problem,” she said. “Maybe I look more approachable and more compassionate, I don’t know. I try to give them my best attention.”

Smith said she has always had one eye on being promoted. She took the sergeant’s test three years ago and was waiting for an opening.

“I am definitely proud and excited to go forward in my career,” she said. “This was always a goal of mine—to proceed through the ranks.”

Earlier this year, the Town Board appointed a second woman to the police force, which Smith said is welcomed, but added that she’s happy to see the department being restored to its old staffing levels after so many budget cuts and rumors that it could be dissolved altogether.

“I think the Town Board realizes the value of the police department and that the officers here are a dedicated and hardworking group,” she said. “And women in law enforcement are definitely needed; they definitely bring a different set of qualities and skills to the department.”

Smith is married to Brian Lena, a New York City fireman and a volunteer for the Mahopac Fire Department.

“My family is super proud,” she said. “Everyone is relieved that the moment is here.”

Police Chief Mike Cazzari, who recommended Smith for the promotion citing her professionalism and dedication, said that as a hometown girl Smith is well known throughout the community.

“She is well liked by the residents for her professionalism and attentiveness,” Cazzari said. “She is a homegrown officer who has brought her sense of civic duty to her chosen profession and to [Mahopac].”

Supervisor Ken Schmitt, a retired Carmel police sergeant, had high praise for Smith and said her promotion was well-deserved.

“Looking at Laura’s resume, it’s pretty outstanding—her achievements and her accomplishments and all the training and various expertise she has in law enforcement,” he said. “She is an extremely educated police officer and brings those talents and skills to the Carmel Police Department. It’s a great honor to promote her to sergeant. We know she is going to do a great job and she will be a great leader.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

What Is Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica is a research organization. Apparently, it is funded by the Mercer family, second only to the Koch brothers on the liberal hit list. Both, through their philanthropy, spend millions on various needy organizations like hospitals. What makes them liberal targets is their funding of various conservative think tanks and candidates. I digress.

Cambridge Analytica used Facebook ...

‘Sister Act’: A Musical Like Nun Other

Of all the Broadway musicals I’ve seen over the years at Westchester Broadway Theatre, only a handful have elicited the noisily enthusiastic audience response I observed at the recent opening night of “Sister Act.”

There were outbursts of applause in the middle of some numbers, and several clever turns of phrase sprinkled in the dialogue landed squarely, to the delight of big ...

Seen Any Good Ol’ Movies Lately?

As I become more, uh, mature, I find myself enjoying older movies more than newer movies. The trio of films presented here for your consideration are three of my all-time favorites. They share great stories, great screenplays, great directing, great acting. They also have in common ratings in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes, and a place of distinction in the National Film Registry, a highly selective ...

Privacy? LOL!

Author’s Note: Mom + Pop Culture are a couple of real characters. They could be you and me. Or not. Every so often, I eavesdrop on their conversations. Let’s listen in on what they’re saying right now about how Facebook fans are shocked—shocked!—that their privacy has been compromised, prompting them to rise up and exhort oppressed social media users everywhere to ...

Cleaning the Empty Nest

Part of the shock of being a part-time empty nester is when the kids come back to visit and I have to watch my house transform overnight from a pristine haven of OCD goodness to a place that looks like an explosion happened at Forever 21.

After my kids moved mostly out, I put away whatever tchotchkes they chose to leave behind and then I put on a hazmat suit and cleaned their rooms until they ...

Tipping the Scales in My Favor

As I was settling into bed one night, I happened to catch my husband out of the corner of my eye.

He was getting on the scale.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled at him. He jerked his head around and looked at me with alarm.

“What? I’m weighing myself.”

I jumped out of bed and yanked him off the scale. 

“You can’t do that now!” I ...

Doing Time in the Big House

“So, what did the doctor say about Dad?” I asked my mom over the phone.

“He has an incarcerated hernia,” she replied.

“INCARCERATED hernia?” I repeated.

“Yes.”

“Why is it incarcerated? Did it rob a bank?”

“What? No.”

“Unlawful entry? Obstruction? Insider trading?” I ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, May 19, 10:00 AM

FDR State Park, Yorktown Heights

BluePath Service Dogs 2nd Annual Walkathon

Giving Back

Sun, May 20

Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park , Yorktown Heights

2nd Annual Northwell Health Walk at Westchester

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back Health & Wellness

Thu, May 24, 6:30 PM

Mahopac

College Admission Webinar

Education

Houlihan Lawrence in Yorktown Welcomes Three New Team Members

April 10, 2018

Zef Camaj, brokerage manager, recently welcomed three salespersons to the team.

Marco Nogueras is an enthusiastic and dedicated professional who uses technologically advanced marketing techniques bringing the real estate experience to a new level. He values customer service and will ensure your goals are met while keeping you updated on current market conditions. Marco has spent the majority ...