Christian Smith: One busy trooper

Tom KingOur Town Heroes, Sevier

Wednesday, March 30, was Christian Smith’s first day back on the job after two weeks on vacation – fishing with his brother in Florida, then home for golfing and relaxing. It was a rough transition. He worked 18 hours that day. So did many others.

Just after lunch on that Wednesday the Hatcher Mountain Wildfire erupted in Wears Valley. Smith and other Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers on the district 1 Strike Team headed to Sevier County between noon and 1 p.m.

Christian Smith

“I was the third trooper on the scene,” Smith says. “This was just 30 minutes from our house in Friendsville. We started evacuating cabins, between 300 and 400 of them, working roadblocks to keep people away from the fire. I was about 100 yards away watching cabins burn and it was really hard. For a lot of these people, it was going to be their first day on vacation and we had to get them out. Really sad. But everyone got out OK.”

The next day there for him was only 16 hours. His last day at the fire was on Saturday, April 2, and by then the fire was 85% contained and thankfully there were no fatalities.

Here is Smith’s first Facebook post about the fire: “Been here since 1300 (1 p.m.) yesterday and still going strong. Prayers for all first responders on scene and all those who are coming to help. The community has done so much for us over the past day and we couldn’t be more grateful. Food, drinks and prayers have been provided throughout. I want to personally thank everyone involved as we continue to do our jobs. The true colors of the Volunteer State always show during times like this.”

Smith, 28, is in his fifth year with the THP after two years with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. He was reared in Lynchburg, Virginia, and is a 2015 Liberty University graduate with a degree in criminal justice. His wife, Cherish, is also a Liberty grad. She’s a work-at-home headhunter for an online recruiting company and also a competitive bodybuilder in physique events. His in-laws live in Knoxville.

A criminal justice class his freshman year at Liberty was decisive in his career path. “That was the big turning point for me. My senior year I applied to 36 law enforcement agencies and was hired by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.  I knew immediately this is my calling and today I would be miserable doing anything else.”

And it’s obvious that what’s he doing for the THP is making a difference. Check out these honors:

  • 2021 DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Trooper of the Year Knoxville district
  • 2021 Top Seatbelt Enforcement Trooper of the Year Knoxville district
  • 2021 MADD Bronze DUI Enforcement Award (Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Tennessee)
  • 2020 Top Seatbelt Enforcement Trooper of the Year Knoxville district
  • 2019 Top Seatbelt Enforcement Trooper Knoxville district
  • 2018 Top Seatbelt Enforcement Runner-Up 2nd Quarter (THP statewide)

His patrol area includes Blount, Monroe and Sevier counties, but he spends the majority of his patrol time in Blount and Monroe counties. That means that his DUI (alcohol and drugs) arrests and seatbelt violations are in these two counties. “I’d say that seven out of every 10 of my DUI arrests are in Monroe County and in Blount seven of 10 are alcohol or drugs,” he explained.

Smith is clear about his passion. “My sole motivation and focus day in and day out is to prevent fatalities on the roads and most of those are caused by being impaired and not using seatbelts. You get tired of seeing the deaths in bad crashes because of those two things – impairment and seatbelts.”

The accident fatalities also create the one aspect of his job he truly finds difficult. THP troopers are required to handle notifying the next of kin about the death of a family member. “Yes, I have to tell them and 90% of those are in person and there’s no easy way to do it. The other 10% are those who don’t live here and you do it on the phone. It’s hard on you either way.”

In addition to his work on patrol and the Strike Team, Smith is a graduate of the demanding Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) School hosted by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and is on the District 1 recruiting team, something he really enjoys. “It was an honor to be selected to be on this team. We recruit during events at local colleges and open houses at headquarters plus social media posts, and have online Zoom meetings and virtual interviews.”

He’s also an instructor for the radar and laser radar units THP uses and handles all yearly recertifications for the district. He’s about to attend two-weeks of training in Advanced Crash School as he works to become an expert in crash reconstruction.

Away from work the stress relief comes from fishing most anywhere (he loves Norris Lake) and lacing up his skates to play in a men’s ice hockey league at Cool Sports The Icearium in Farragut. He was a defenseman on the Liberty NCAA team (Division III). And supporting his body-building wife. “I also have to tell you that Cherish is incredibly supportive of my career and its risks,” he adds.

Any parting thoughts?  “I love it, this job. It is a calling for me, completely. I’d be successful in any job, but for me I have been called to a career so I can make a difference in my community and my state. This is a servant’s career and that’s who I am.”

Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and was the editor of two newspapers. Suggest future stories at or call him at 865-659-3562.

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