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Random Thoughts: A Community Conversation with Cpl. Corey Smith

Cpl. Corey Smith and K-9 Dark [Ellisville Police Department photo]

This week, West Newsmagazine talks with Cpl. Corey Smith with the Ellisville Police Department. He started with the department in February 2008 and currently serves as a certified range instructor, a Multi-Assault, Counter Terrorism Action Capabilities instructor and a supervisor for the breath alcohol instrument. He also played a large role in the startup of the department’s K-9 unit and, since 2016, has been the handler for Slovakia-born K-9 Dark. As a team, Dark and Smith are certified in tracking, narcotics, aggressions, building searching and obedience. A dual-purpose Malinois Shepherd mix, Dark also has helped with cases in Ballwin, Wildwood and Eureka. When Dark is off-duty, he enjoys long walks, fetch, belly rubs, taking naps and “monitoring” his Instagram page [@K9_dark] with Smith. Married for 6 1/2 years, Smith and his wife, Jennifer, have two children.

When is the hardest you’ve ever worked?

I honestly believe it was handler school. That was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked because you have all this studying to do and all these tests. There’s no multiple-choice test. It’s fill-in-the-blank, verbatim from the definitions. So there was having to memorize all that, and that’s on top of hustling all day long while trying to take care of everything else. That’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do – get ready for Dark.

What is your “then it got worse” story?

I think the biggest thing is still that time we found a baby here [in Ellisville] under the tree [in 2012]. I remember the call because Officer Chuck had taken it, and he is a big animal lover. So the call came in from the woman, and she said she thought she found puppies under the tree … he’s going out that way, and I get an update on the radio that there might be dead dogs, so I’m heading that way, too. As I’m driving down the street, he’s standing there and waving me over … I’d just had my son a month or two prior to this, so when I pulled back the blanket, I’m like, “Oh, my God,” because there’s a baby right there. My heart just sank. It looked dead. All of a sudden, it moved, and so I picked it up and ran it back to my car. I turned up the heat and told Chuck to go into the lady’s house and get me a clean towel to wrap the baby in. Well, it seemed like it took an hour to get a towel just because time slowed down. I bundled it up and waited for the ambulance to come … Just that feeling of opening the towel and seeing the baby inside, and it was 40 degrees that morning, so it was cold. Then, to see the baby move, it was like, “Oh, my God. Great. We have something to work with here.” So it ended great … but I think that’s my best example of “OK, we’ve gone straight to the bad stuff.”

What current trend makes no sense?

The trend where people danced outside their cars. Wasn’t it called the Keke Challenge? What makes someone think, “Hey, I’m going to get out and dance next to my car?” Where have we come as a society where people are getting out of their cars in the middle of traffic to dance, and again, next to a moving car. I guess it has kind of gone by the wayside now, but for a while, all these people were getting hit by cars and they still kept doing it!

Are children today better or worse off than previous generations?

I think they have the opportunity to be better off, just because of how things have changed. However, a lot of kids that you run into, especially doing the job that I do, there’s just no respect for anybody. They don’t care. When I was a kid, if you mouthed off to a police officer … well, first of all, you wouldn’t. Secondly, you were put in your place and mom and dad were notified. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that every kid doesn’t care. You have your good and bad, but the ones that don’t care, they don’t care about anything. How did we get to this?

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