Former Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith reflects on career - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Former Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith reflects on career

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SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - For more than three decades, we knew him as the sheriff of Smith County. Now, J.B. Smith is entering retirement and starting something new.

"I heard a preacher say one time, yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery, today's a gift, and that's why they call it the present," said J.B. Smith.

This is J.B. Smith's present. He sits in an empty office, reflecting on more than 35 years of service as sheriff of Smith County.

In 1976, he replaced Harlan Long as sheriff.

"I didn't like the job the other fellow was doing. I made that comment to a couple of people and they said if you don't like it, why don't you run, and I said, I just might," said Smith.

Six years before, he was working for the Tyler Police department. A job, I guess you could say, he stumbled upon.

"I came through Tyler, Texas accidentally, headed back to Arkansas one day. I just happened to stop here. Fell in love with it," explained Smith.

As the son of an Arkansas sharecropper,  J.B. Smith joined the Navy at the age of 17,  never imagining he would one day be the longest serving sheriff of a county that shares his name.

"The number one factor is adding value to the people I have served. That value is obviously recognized and they chose to rehire me every four years," said Smith.

Sheriff Smith has been through it all. He lived at the top of the jail with his youngest son for almost a year.

"Often times, I had to get up and cook breakfast for the prisoners," said Smith.

But in his storied career, one thing still makes him choke up today, the Smith County Courthouse shooting in 2005.

"My deputies were critically, seriously injured, that was probably one of the saddest days of my life," said Smith.

As he prepares to leave his office, he gives these words of advice to his successor.

"I think all elected officials should not forget who they serve. The people out here are smart people. The elected officials directly represent them," added Smith.

 So, what's next for J.B. Smith?

He's looking forward to writing more books. He already has two on store shelves.

He also plans on expanding his public speaking engagements. In fact, he recently spoke to the United States Navy SEALS returning from Afghanistan.

You can also see the former sheriff right here on KYTX CBS 19, "JB's Journal's," where he tells his favorite stories from across East Texas.

He actually just won an Emmy for his work .


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