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

Cuomo’s Frivolous Lawsuits Cost Us Money

Since Donald Trump became president, New York State has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes those filed by both Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It does not include lawsuits filed by the City of New York. Most of them are political in nature, filed to please the plaintiffs’ voting base. In the real world, if we had filed ...

The State of the Democratic Party

Last week, President Trump gave his first State of the Union address. Here are a few things he pointed out:

• Since the election, 2.4 million new jobs have been created.

• Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low.

• African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.

• Hispanic-American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in ...

Beautiful, 'Clean' Coal

After completing his first full year in office—an alarming year, at that— Donald Trump has concluded that climate change is not a significant national threat and that the sacred lands and waters of this country should be sold to the highest bidder. 

The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement; deregulated national landmarks; freed public lands for ...

Multigrain, Please

I have no craving for white bread; it’s too plain, predictable and tasteless for me. I hunger for a chunk of multigrain or rye, maybe even a good-sized piece of pumpernickel raisin, with a schmear of cream cheese on the side.

I have no appetite for bland, clean-cut, middle-of-the-road, isolationist politics. And I find unsettling the cultural sameness, gross consumerism and incurious ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

Peekskill AIMs to Become a 'Mediapolis'

What could the city of Peekskill possibly have in common with Silicon Valley, Hollywood and New York City? Like those familiar centers of multimedia creativity and commerce, the historic river town is downright giddy with excitement about transforming itself into a mediapolis, to coin a phrase.

Thanks to local movers and shakers, led by prominent Peekskill businessman Ben Green, the ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Getting Off on the Wrong Foot

“What happened to your ankle?” asked my neighbor when he saw the orthopedic boot on my right foot.

“I tripped while I was in Pamplona running with the bulls,” I told him.

He raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

“No. Not really,” I admitted. “I was actually climbing Machu Picchu and I fell over a llama.”

“Seriously?” he ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Wed, February 28, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Thu, March 1, 7:00 PM

Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers

The Kennedy Catholic High School Players ...

Arts & Entertainment Other Religions And Spirituality

Bazzo Needs to Get His Facts Straight

February 15, 2018

To the editor,

Once again Mr. Bazzo, in his Feb. 8, column cherry picks facts, ignores other facts, passes along lies and spins so fast to the right that it’s amazing he doesn’t drill himself into the earth.

Bazzo is correct—the economy is doing well, and we should give credit where credit is due. Thank you, President Obama for taking the economy from the brink of another ...