Donald B. Smith is the 53rd Sheriff of Putnam County. He was first elected to this position on November 6, 2001 and assumed the duties of Putnam County Sheriff on January 1, 2002. Immediately prior to becoming the Sheriff of Putnam County, he had served as the Deputy County Executive of Putnam County from 1999 - 2001.
Sheriff Smith was born in Danbury, Connecticut, and grew up in Patterson, New York. Following his graduation from New York Military Academy at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, New York in 1965, he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from West Point in June of 1969, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Armor.
During his company grade years he served as a Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Cavalry Troop Commander, Instructor, and Company Tactical Officer in a variety of assignments at Fort Ord, California; Fort Knox, Kentucky; West Point, New York; and in the Republic of Vietnam. His combat tour in Vietnam included service as both a Platoon Leader and Troop Commander in C Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry.
Following graduation from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, General Smith was assigned for duty in the U.S. Army Europe, where he spent 6 years in the 8th Infantry Division (Mechanized) during the Cold War. While assigned to the Pathfinder Division, he served as Battalion Executive Officer, Deputy G1, Division G1, Battalion Commander, and Division Inspector General. General Smith’s command tour with the Division was in Mainz-Gonsenheim, Germany, where he commanded the 4th Battalion, 69th Armor from 1982-1984.
Following his six-year tour in Europe, General Smith returned to the United States where he attended Senior Service College as a fellow at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Upon graduation in 1986, he was assigned as the Chief of Armor Branch, followed by service as the Combat Arms Division Chief, both within the Officer Personnel Management Directorate of the Army’s Personnel Command. He commanded the 194th Separate Armored Brigade, the largest heavy Brigade in the United States Army, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, from August 1989 to August 1991. Following Brigade Command, General Smith served as Deputy Director of Personnel Support Policy and Services in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from September 1991 until September 1993. His final assignment on active duty as a General Officer was with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, serving as the Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver through November 1994, followed by service as the Assistant Division Commander for Support.
From 1993 through 1996, General Smith also performed the major additional duty of Chief of the United States Delegation to the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM), a world organization consisting of 113 member nations who promote world peace by sponsoring military sports world championships. He served on the Executive Committee of this international organization and also was the President of its Permanent Commission for Information and Public Relations from 1994 through 1996. General Smith served as the Chief of Delegation and Chief of Mission for the United States at the First Military World Games in Rome, Italy, in September of 1995.
General Smith has attended numerous Army schools and training programs, including the prestigious Leadership Development Program for Executives taught at Eckerd College, and also has earned a Master of Science Degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.
Since taking office, Sheriff Smith has emphasized community policing; all law enforcement throughout the County working together as a team; and has focused on making the County safer for its young people by increasing the intensity of the war on drugs, and by emphasizing drivers’ safety programs and safety belt usage, especially for the youthful driving population. Under his leadership, the School Resource Officer Program has expanded in the high schools and middle schools of Putnam County. While serving as Sheriff, he has significantly increased training and brought new technology and programs to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Correctional Facility. Sheriff Smith served in numerous positions of great responsibility in the New York State Sheriffs’ Association to include serving as the President of the Association. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Association and also serves as a Trustee on the Executive Board.
Sheriff Smith has served in numerous leadership positions in community organizations including past president of the Westchester-Putnam Council of the Boy Scouts of America, past president of the Mental Health Association in Putnam County, and currently serves as Chairman of the American Heart Association in Putnam County. Sheriff Smith also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Security Council Foundation, which promotes the military concept and strategy of “Peace Through Strength” and currently is the Chairman of the Board.
Sheriff Smith was married to the late Jane Powell Smith for more than 43 years. Mrs. Smith passed on in 2015 after fighting a courageous 2½ year battle with breast cancer. Their son, Chris, graduated from James Madison University and has an MBA from Virginia Tech. Chris is a consultant and realtor in the Washington, D.C. area. Chris has one child - a daughter. He is married to Dr. Mary Smith. Sheriff and Mrs. Smith’s daughter, Cherilynne, is a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, with a Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education. She is married to Jesse Marsalis, who is a Lt. Colonel in the United States Army. The Marsalis’ have seven children, five sons and two daughters. The Smith family was recognized as a Great American Family while stationed in Mainz, Germany in 1983.