Calhoun County Sheriff Deputies Curtis Smith and Joel Flees

Calhoun County Sheriff Deputies being awarded at the Police Officers of the Year ceremony in Battle Creek, Michigan.
POAM President Tignanelli, Deputy Flees, Deputy Smith, Business Agent Wayne Beerbower, and Business Agent Dave LaMontaine.

On March 9, 2019, at approximately 4 a.m., units from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department were called to a domestic dispute in Pennfield Township. Calhoun County Sheriff Deputies were advised the husband was armed, had already shot at the wife, and was in the house with his teenage children.

Deputy Curtis Smith was one of the deputies sent to the volatile scene. When he arrived, he exited his patrol car and was immediately approached by the wife advancing from the neighbor’s house next door. In an agitated state, the wife confirmed to Deputy Smith that her husband was armed and still in the house with her teen son. The wife, however, could not give the exact location in the house where the suspect could be found.

He also was advised the suspect had been in a scuffle with two of his sons – he shot one son in the arm and the other in the abdominal area. Both boys had already made their way out of the house to the neighbors.

Deputy Smith then moved toward the house and saw the rear door was ajar. Lights appeared to be on in the kitchen. He held his position while he waited for backup units to assist in making the entry into the house. He also requested to dispatch for a ballistic shield to be brought to the scene because the suspect had already shot two children and attempted to shoot his wife. The suspect was considered armed and dangerous.

When the other units arrived, it was decided, because of his Special Response Team experience, Deputy Smith would take the lead with the ballistic shield. He then led three other officers, including Calhoun County Deputy Flees, into the home. Once the lower level was cleared, the deputies made their way upstairs. The door to the room to the left of the officers was closed, and he kicked it in. Deputy Smith came face to face with the suspect on the bed with a shotgun in his hand, which he pointed at the deputy.

Deputy Smith immediately let the other officers know the suspect was armed. He began ordering the suspect to show his hands and drop his gun. The suspect did not comply and instead lifted his gun and shot in the direction of Deputy Smith. He, along with the other officers, returned fire.

Once the subject no longer appeared to be a threat after the gunfire stopped, the suspect laid motionless. No other victims were found in the house. It was later learned the last of the teenage children thought to be in the house had fled to another neighbor’s home.

In the end, because of his training and skills in intense hostile situations, this deputy was able to take charge of the confrontation. As a result, he saved the lives of himself and his fellow officers.

For using their extraordinary policing skills and making quick decisions that saved lives, the Police Officers Association of Michigan is presenting Calhoun County Sheriff Deputies Smith, with the 2019 Police Officer of the Year award, and Flees, with the Distinguished Service Award.