Sergeant Ward Smith of the Kansas City (MO) Police Department has been named the 2016 NRA Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor of the Year. (Photo: NRA)

Sergeant Ward Smith of the Kansas City (MO) Police Department has been named the 2016 NRA Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor of the Year. (Photo: NRA)

The NRA Law Enforcement Division has named Sergeant Ward Smith of the Kansas City (MO) Police Department the 2016 NRA Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor of the Year.

Smith is a 29-year veteran with the KCPD, which consists of approximately 1,350 sworn members and 550 civilian employees. He was first certified as an NRA Firearms Instructor in 1984 while serving with the Excelsior Springs Police Department, prior to joining the KCPD.

At the KCPD, Smith has been assigned to the Professional Development and Research Bureau/Firearms Training and Tactics Section since 2006. Prior assignments include basic training supervisor, SWAT supervisor, Special Operations Division-Operations sergeant, and patrol supervisor.

He currently serves as the Missouri Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) firearms subject matter expert, subject matter expert to the Missouri Attorney General’s office, board member of the National Law Enforcement Training Center, co-chairman of the officer-involved shooting review panel for KCPD, notable events review panel member for KCPD, and an officer involved shooting investigative team member for the KC Metro area.

Smith has received his agency’s Medal of Valor, the Metropolitan Police Chief’s Association Award for Valor, two certificates of commendation for heroism, two meritorious service awards, and 10 special unit citations. He holds several NRA Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor certifications, is a certified Force Science Institute Force Analyst, and has authored articles on firearms training and use of force. 

Additionally, he is the author of the KCPD Badge Placement Study, which analyzed how officers scan and identify subjects during a critical situation, specifically other officers in plainclothes. This study was published in several industry periodicals.

Upon assignment to the firearms training and tactics section of the KCPD, Smith did a comprehensive review of training and teaching methodology, specifically looking for any practices that kept officers from reaching their potential. By refocusing efforts that placed the development of personnel at the center of the training effort, the KCPD firearms training and tactics staff steadily increased the number of officers who could qualify on their first attempt.

The KCPD firearms training and tactics staff are responsible for triannual training for the members of the agency, which totals over 16,000 man-hours of training each year. Additionally, they provide mandatory training for Kansas City’s more than 2,200 privately licensed security officers, more than 120 hours of training for each Kansas City Missouri Regional Training Academy Recruit class, and specialty classes in light-mounted firearms, patrol rifle, precision rifle, advanced handgun, and several other disciplines. 

The KCPD has been at the forefront of training in regard to De-escalation techniques and controlling proximity during critical incidents. Smith and his training staff have been recognized nationally for training developed to address these issues. Smith has developed presentations for the KCPD Citizens Police Academy, the KCPD Family Association, and the annual Take Your Kid to Work program, where department members’ children receive firearms safety training and participate in zombie-themed and alien-themed tactical simulated missions.

Smith stays active in regional firearms competitions, including the Johnson County (KS) Sheriff's Department Shootout, benefiting Special Olympics, and the Kansas City Metro Crime Commission Border Showdown, which pits the best shooters from Kansas and Missouri against each other to benefit the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, benefiting the families of fallen officers. Smith won the individual competition in 2015 and 2016, and his team took top honors in 2016 as well. 

Smith says he would like to thank his staff – Officer Spike Angle, Officer Mark Fogel, Officer AnnMarie Herrera, Instructor David Andress, and Instructor William Conroy – for their continued commitment, and his entire chain of command – Captain Stephenie Price, Major Wayne Stewart, Deputy Chief Robert Kuehl and Chief Darryl Forté, for their constant support.

As NRA’s Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor of the Year, Smith will receive a Smith & Wesson firearm, donated by Smith & Wesson, as well as a plaque.