After 15 months of living the retired life — waking up late, going fishing with his son, attending his grandson's soccer games — Vice Mayor Darryl Smith has made the decision to go back to work.
"The goal was to stay out of work for a year and spend that time with my family," said the 55-year-old former Herndon Police captain. "And then I would look into another job — and probably one not in law enforcement."
But, even with his best efforts to stay away from police work, Smith has accepted a position to become Chief of Police for the Town of Purcellville — about 30 miles west of Herndon.
Applying for the position, along with 105 other applicants, Smith made the cut down to six, then two and finally number one.
"I'd love to be a police chief for a while, especially in a small town like that," he said. "I just hope I can offer something positive to the community."
Before his acceptance, Smith determined he would not run for reelection in the upcoming May 2 Herndon Town Council elections.
"Being a police chief is not easy and I am going to have to be 200 percent for a while to be successful," he said. "I want to have a completely open schedule; to be able to do what's best for me."
Not running for council, Smith still plans to stay plugged in with Herndon's youth. One of the founding members of Vecinos Unidos/Neighbors United, Smith helped establish the group's after school homework assistance program at the Neighborhood Resource Center. Currently he tutors students one night a week, something he hopes to continue even with the new job.
"I'm delighted he's been given the opportunity to fulfill, what I have been told is a lifelong dream, to become a police chief of a small town," said Mayor Michael O'Reilly. "But, I'm also a little saddened that we won't have him as often in our community as he's been over the last 30-some years."
A HERNDON NATIVE, Smith joined the Herndon Police Department at 22, making history as the town's first black police officer. From there he spent the next 31 years making his way up to captain, and making his mark on the community.
While a member of the Herndon Police Department, Smith was instrumental in establishing the Herndon Police Citizen Support Team and Vecinos Unidos/Neighbors United, Inc. He also set up Boy Scout Troop 1580, for interested Hispanic youths and recreational soccer teams for children to compete in an organized fashion. Smith has always been a supporter of after school programs for Herndon-area youth, and he worked hard to ensure children have a positive relationship with the police.
During a September 2004 retirement ceremony at the Herndon Municipal Center, colleagues, residents, town staff and elected officials — including U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) and then-Governor Mark Warner (D) — listed their favorite "Smitty" memories.
"Our loss is Purcellville's gain, but you have got to be excited for Darryl," said O'Reilly of Smith's decision not to run for reelection.
As the new police chief, Smith sees a lot of similarities between Purcellville now and the Town of Herndon a few years ago. As a Town Council member for the past two years — another historical event, being the first black vice mayor — Smith said he has a better understanding of how a Town Council operates.
"I may not have all the answers, but I have some good ideas," Smith said, adding that Purcellville is a charming town he is eager to explore.
In the upcoming week Smith will meet with Purcellville Town Council members and staff and establish a swearing in date, where he will become the official chief of police.
"It's going to be weird, I haven't had a uniform on in over a year," joked Smith. "But, I enjoy it, I love the work, I love the people and, in a small town like that, getting to know the people will be exciting."