By Mike Stahl
I support the former deputy director, United States Secret Service, A.T. “Tommy” Smith for sheriff of Greenville County because we owe our dedicated deputies a leader who will provide national-class, principled leadership.
I am a retired Marine colonel with an infantry and special operations background. I competed with members of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team while at a regional International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) club competition.
I was privileged to get to know these amazing professionals and was asked to speak at one of their training sessions. Greenville is truly blessed with some of the best-trained officers in the nation.
While attending an event where several deputies were providing security, I asked them for a recommendation. ‘Which candidate should I support?’ Their collective response was restrained, as you would expect. They asked, simply, ‘Just give us a leader that we can respect.’
Greenville owes these officers and all Greenville County deputies, and their families, our sincere thanks for all that they do and for risking their lives daily. We also owe these officers quality leadership of which they can be proud.
When former Sheriff Steve Loftis introduced me to Tommy Smith and asked me to support him, I was immediately impressed with Tommy’s story and experience.
Tommy was a dispatcher in the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office under Johnny Mack Brown. He became a deputy and served until he was recruited by the United States Secret Service.
Tommy was appointed by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, to the position of Principal Federal Official (PFO) for the tri-state region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. There, he coordinated security plans for the 2004 Republican National Convention and the United Nations General Assembly 60th Anniversary.
I spoke with former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, a highly respected Marine officer who I served with in Vietnam. Tommy worked with the commissioner while coordinating steering committees for National Special Security Events (NSSE). The commissioner said he was impressed with Tommy’s effective leadership, his consensus-building skills and the respect he earned from members of over twenty participating federal, state and local agencies.
One of Tommy’s former agents, Don Mihalek described Tommy’s inspirational (his word, not mine) leadership in rebuilding the New York office after it was destroyed during the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11. Don said that through Tommy’s quiet, confidence-inspiring, mission-focused style and with a true open-door policy, he turned a demoralized office into one of the best in the nation.
This is the national-class, principled leadership that our outstanding deputies deserve. This is, indeed, a leader our officers can respect. I cannot imagine a more qualified candidate.
Col. Mike Stahl has retired from service with the United States Marine Corps.