Rare honor given to disabled trooper

Published: May. 8, 2012 at 11:17 PM CDT|Updated: May. 14, 2012 at 8:32 AM CDT
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Trooper Bobby Smith
Trooper Bobby Smith

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A resolution to honor Trooper Bobby Smith passed Tuesday in both the Senate and the House.

It's his life story that brought all the state legislators together -- a story of turning every single challenge, into an opportunity for achievement.

The journey with the Louisiana State Police started 29 years ago when he became trooper in 1983. But, it's what happened just three years later during a traffic stop that changed everything for Smith.

"I was shot in the face and totally blind, and lost my career that I love so much," said Smith.

March 14, 1986, Smith was shot point blank. Lying face down in the middle of the highway, the thought crossed his mind, "Will this be the day I die?" Instead, he chose to fight. Because he lost his eyesight, he had to turn in the uniform he proudly wore every day.

"The day I was going through my closet, and I ran across my state police uniform and I still had all the things on the front, the badge, my nametag and I just held the uniform and cried," said Smith.

But quickly wiped those tears and decided to pursue a Ph.D. in counseling and psychology. Just when Smith was piecing his life back together, the path only got darker, much darker.

"In 1997, my daughter Kim was killed in a traffic accident. Then in 2010, my son was a sophomore at the University of Lafayette. He died," said Smith.

Both of his children died. The career he loved so much was gone, and his eyesight was lost, but all of that turned into a vision of courage.

So four years ago, State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson pinned the badge back on bringing Smith back as a trooper.

"As my hands pinned this badge back on, they trembled because I knew the weight behind what I was doing, what I was doing to an individual who this badge meant so much to," said Col. Edmonson. "I'm proud to have him back on the department."

Smith has since written two books and now provides counseling and a listening ear to any officers, deputies and troopers who have reached their wit's end.

"I truly believe the best teacher is experience, and I just want to be able to come back and say, 'Allow me to use my experience in that valley that I walked through to help you get through your own valley'," said Smith.

It's that experience he now uses to console his fellow brothers.

"He so badly wants to help police officers, and there's not a week that goes by that some police officer somewhere from this state or somewhere from this country calls Bobby and says, 'I'm at the end of my rope, Bobby. Talk to me'," said Edmonson.

In 2001, Trooper Smith founded the FORTE (Foundation for Officers Recovering from Traumatic Events) Foundation.

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