Yuma, Arizona.- Yuma Police Chief Susan Smith retires Jan. 31, capping a groundbreaking career that spanned 30 years with the City of Yuma.
Hired in 1992, Smith started as a public safety dispatcher, Smith worked her way up through the ranks of the Yuma Police Department. Along the way, she became YPD’s first female to earn the rank of Lieutenant in 2006, its first female Captain in 2009, its first female Deputy Chief in 2012 and first female Chief in 2019.
During her time as chief, Smith navigated the Police Department through a number of challenges, including difficulties with hiring and retaining personnel; COVID-19; spikes in immigration and asylum-related border crossings; reactions to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minnesota; and various protests.
“Chief Smith, congratulations on your retirement,” said Mayor Doug Nicholls. The years you have dedicated to this community, after dedicating your time in the Marine Corps are an amazing accomplishment. Coming from dispatch and then moving all the way to Chief, and being our first female chief in the City of Yuma, are great accomplishments. It’s been great working with you. Thank you for keeping the community safe and for your dedication and work to the Yuma community.”
“I want to congratulate Chief Smith on her 30-plus year career at the City of Yuma,” said Acting City Administrator Jay Simonton. “You’re a testament that through dedication and hard work you can work your way up from dispatch to becoming the first female Police Chief for the City of Yuma. I want to say ‘thank you’ for your dedicated service. You will be greatly missed, but I want to wish you the best and all the luck in the future.”
“I have worked with Susan for over 30 years. Her commitment and concern for the citizens of the Yuma Community and the personnel of the Yuma Police Department was demonstrated every day,” noted Deputy Chief of Police Lisa Culp. “She is a great friend, co-worker and a true leader. She will be missed. I congratulate her on a job well done and wish her all the best on her retirement!”
Some of Smith’s accomplishments include YPD’s involvement in the Arizona Law Enforcement Accreditation Program; expansion of the public safety technician program; implementation of online reporting for the public; pay increases, starting with sworn officers and civilian personnel, then critical staffing assignment pay for dispatchers, then to increases for all department employees.
Smith also guided YPD from antiquated weaponry into contemporary weapons systems, such as red dot handguns and rifles that include red dot optics and suppressors to protect officers’ hearing.
“Since these purchases, many area agencies have made these same purchases and asked for our assistance in training their personnel,” Culp said.
During Smith’s tenure, YPD’s forensics area became known for its forensics abilities, including a system that compares bullet casings recovered at crimes scenes and a crime scene management software system that recreates scenes. All agencies across the county request YPD’s assistance from YPD units such as investigations, Special Enforcement Team, forensic, traffic, K-9, and Special Operations Group.
The City of Yuma collectively thanks Chief Susan Smith for her contributions to the City, congratulates her on her accomplishments and wishes her well in her retirement.