Meet the officer: City police dispatcher Ericka Smith

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee Police Department (OPD) emergency dispatch operator Ericka Smith was born an only child in Avon Park in 1988 but has spent the entirety of her 29-year life here in Okeechobee.

Officer Ericka Smith of Okeechobee Police Department

She would spend her summers working as an airboat tour guide. Ms. Smith said, “My dad, Dennis, and mom, Judy, owned Okeechobee Boat Rentals and Airboat Rides located near the lake and I would spend every day of summer there fishing and going on boat rides. I would earn tips from customers for me telling them about the wildlife they would see while on the tour.” She enjoyed playing video games and board games with her family members stating, “I loved Crazy Taxi for the Sega Dreamcast and played with my two childhood best friends, Ashley and Tori. I also like to play bingo, just my mom and I.”

Ms. Smith graduated from Okeechobee High School in 2006. Her favorite courses were those in automotive, explaining, “I took auto mechanics all through high school. I’ve been in grease since I could walk and have always loved cars and trucks and working on them with my dad. I wouldn’t change a thing about that.” She said her favorite thing about school were the Mexican pizzas that would be served for lunch and being with her friends, while her least favorite was having to wake up early.

Ms. Smith began her work for a grocery retailer as a cashier but progressed to becoming a scanning coordinator, responsible for all the signs and pricing in the store. “My first job was at U-Save and being able to work with Mr. Johnny Gant was a great learning experience! He let me learn as much as I wanted to learn,” Ms. Smith said of the employment episode.

Ms. Smith has been an emergency dispatch operator for a period of two years, one with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and currently one year with OPD.

Although she made a switch from one organization to another Ms. Smith said, “I love both agencies and they have both treated me great.” When asked how her career created value in her life, Ms. Smith said, “My career, regardless of the agency, has allowed me to help people every day and knowing that is invaluable.” She is the first of her family to work in the field of law enforcement stating, “I never thought of law enforcement as a career, but my god mother, Connie Curry, set me on this path and I am very thankful because I love my career!” Ms. Smith said her biggest career influence has been other coworkers, explaining, “I’ve been influenced greatly over the past two years by being privileged to have coworkers who have many years of experience from both, the sheriff’s office and police department.”

When she is not taking calls for OPD, Ms. Smith enjoys spending her time fishing and helping animals.

“I love to fish fresh and salt water; as long as I have my line in the water, I’m happy! Only catch and release though, I don’t eat fish. I also love to help animals when I can,” expressed Ms. Smith. Ms. Smith also said that if she could meet anyone from the past or present, it would be some of her former relatives. “I’d like to meet both of my grandfathers, they happened to pass away before I was born.” She said if she could travel to a different time period that, “I’d like to look 10 years into the future and see what life is like then.” When asked what super-human power she would like to possess, Ms. Smith replied, “I would like to be able to fly so I can get to places quickly in an emergency if needed.”

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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