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Sheriff Pete Smith and Deputy Larry Bennett remembered and honored

Sumter County gathered on July 15, 2021, to celebrate Sheriff Pete Smith and Deputy Larry Bennett. Beyond the Call of Duty, End of Watch Ride to Remember is traveling over 22,300 miles to honor law enforcement officers who died while in service. The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) was home to two of these officers. Pete Smith, a long-time law enforcement officer served as our sheriff and Larry Bennett, who started his service as a detention officer was a school resource officer. Both died secondary to illness while actively serving Sumter County.

Sheriff Eric Bryant opened the program and a color guard made up of SCSO and Americus Police Department officers were present while Regina Thomas sang the National Anthem. Bud Womack, the SCSO Chaplain welcomed and blessed the crowd. The End of Watch Ride to Remember consisted of six riders this year. They began their ride in the state of Washington escorting a 41-foot trailer across the country. As they honor the officers, they also honor the families of the officers. Although Deputy Bennett’s family was unable to attend, Sheriff Bryant acknowledged them. Sheriff Smith’s family was present and aptly identified as the “heroes for the hero” by founder Jagrut Shah, a former deputy sheriff.

Color Guard made up of officers from SCSO and APD

Regina Thomas sang the National Anthem

Sheriff Eric Bryant, Jagrut Shah and Chaplain Bud Womack

The End of Watch Ride to Remember’s trailer has a picture of the officers they are honoring as they travel the country. There is an opportunity for the crowd to add their names and memories of the officers to travel forward as the ride continues. In return for honoring our officers, the ride makes one request. Sheriff Bryant fulfilled the request by giving Shah the SCSO badge as is worn on their uniform.

Family of Pete Smith

Members of the Smarr Smith Foundation

As the program was closed out, the crowd was invited to enjoy refreshments and participate further by visiting the trailer, offering remembrances and joining in fellowship with neighbors, the riders, and our law enforcement officers. It was a beautiful Thursday morning to enjoy our memories of Pete Smith and Larry Bennett while celebrating the work our officers do on our behalf every day. The coordinators of the event, Monica Wade, Sheriff Eric Bryant and Captain Jay Lewis showered Sumter Countians with generous hospitality as they created a space set aside to honor this profession.

Sergeant Sharon Johnson and Paul Johnson

Sumter County Fire Department Chief, Jerry Harmon