Fallen officer was a ‘role model’

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A community hero outside of the badge.

Friends of fallen Officer Verdell Smith are remembering his work for what he did outside of the fighting crime on the streets of Memphis.

Officer Smith spent much of his time patrolling Beale and it's ultimately where his life was cut short.

But friends said he was always out in the community, fostering relationships, working with multiple groups to bridge the gap between ex-convicts and police officers.

"He performed his duties as though it was mission driven that meant he would go the extra mile. He wouldn't just do what was asked. He would do more."

Pastor DeAndre Brown is an activist in the Frayser community.

He helps ex-convicts through Lifeline to Success.

Working beside him was his friend and 18-year MPD veteran Verdell Smith.

Smith was killed Saturday night after police said Justin Welch shot three people then ran him down on Beale Street.

"The work that he did was to help individuals that fit the profile of the one that took his life," explained Brown.

When he wasn't on duty, Smith worked with other programs like Facing Our Future and Playback.

Playback brings officers and former felons together to share stories and feelings through performance.

An unlikely match, but Smith, seen on video speaking to the group, wanted it known he was relatable.

"It brings out a lot of reality for me to sit here and talk to these men and women. I haven't been to prison but I know what you're dealing with on the inside because I saw my brother lose his life to it," he said.

Almetta Street participated in Playback and remembers Smith with a smile.

She said he was encouraging, doing his best to make others feel comfortable.

"Very pleasant person and when it was my time to reenact with him he would say 'tell your story! You know we good, we fine!' But he always made me feel good," explained Smith.

The officer appeared to fit the mold city leaders call for everyday- being a role model, a strong voice for his community, a legacy Brown said others should strive to live up to.

"It's our job now to pick up the torch and more vigilant and work even harder. More unified to tackle the ills of the community," he said.

Brown hopes to honor Smith in a march in Memphis later this month.

 

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