Former Sturgis police chief charged by AG office with drunk driving

Pretrial hearing in St. Joseph County District Court Jan. 29

LANSING — Former Sturgis Police Chief Geoffrey Smith was charged Tuesday by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office with three misdemeanors stemming from an August drunk driving incident.

Smith, 49, was charged with one count of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, one count of operating a motor vehicle with an unlawful blood alcohol level, and one count of operating a motor vehicle with a high blood-alcohol content. The first two counts are misdemeanors that could carry a 93-day sentence, while the latter count is a misdemeanor that could carry a 180-day sentence.

According to Attorney General Dana Nessel, Smith waived his arraignment on Jan. 12 and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 9 a.m. Jan. 29 in St. Joseph County 3B District Court.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 16, 2020, Smith, who was off-duty at the time, struck a parked vehicle while driving southbound on Lakeview Avenue in Sturgis. According to the Attorney General’s Office, lab test results following the accident showed Smith’s blood-alcohol level at the time was .208 percent, two and a half times the legal limit. He was arrested and released later that morning.

“Those of us who choose to work as public servants must hold ourselves to a higher standard and ensure the trust placed in us by the people is not broken,” Nessel said in a press release. “As public servants, we answer to the people we chose to represent and serve in our official duties, and we must conduct ourselves at all times with the public’s best interest in mind.”

On Aug. 27, 11 days following the incident, Smith resigned from the Sturgis Police Department. In September, Smith also tendered his resignation with the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District Board of Education, where he was the board’s treasurer.

According to the release, the Attorney General’s office agreed to review the case following a request from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office, due to a conflict of interest.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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