A bench on the beach: Fallen MIPD Lt. Clayton Smith honored with memorial at South Beach
In a way, Clayton Smith will still be watching over the beach. Dozens of Marco Island police officers, Marco Police Foundation representatives, family members and supporters gathered at South Beach on Sunday morning, to dedicate a memorial bench to the memory of the late MIPD Lt. Clayton Smith.
The department’s point man and “beach ambassador,” who spent much of his time patrolling the beaches of Marco Island, died Feb. 6 in a traffic accident on the island.
The brief ceremony was emceed by MIPD officer Josh Ferris, a close friend of Lt. Smith. Eight MIPD vehicles, including two all-terrain buggies the department uses to traverse the sand along the Gulf, were gathered in a semi-circle around the bench.
The group heard from City Councilor Charlette Roman, Police Chief Tracy Frazzano and Al Schettino, former police chief, who delivered the Police Officer’s Prayer. Bob Brown and Joe Politi also spoke, sharing their reminisces of a man who was always willing to help anyone in need, and went far beyond what was necessary.
“Clayton loved the beach. It’s only fitting we dedicate this bench to him,” said Ferris.
“Clayton had a way of making everyone his best friend,” said Politi.
“He was a true blessing to this island,” said Schettino.
Lt. Smith’s wife Lisa listened to the tributes along with two of the couple’s seven children, Clayton J. Smith, 20, and Zachary Smith, 18. Major contributors to funding the beach bench and its memorial plaque, including Jim and Allyson Richards and Bill and Karen Young, along with the island’s Beach & Coastal Resources Advisory Committee, were also thanked.
Lt. Smith spent six years with the MIPD, after retiring from 25 years with the Springfield Township Police Department in Ohio. Hundreds of people, including representatives of that department, showed up in February for his funeral service in February.
The bench dedication was postponed from June, due to concerns it might become a flashpoint for protest, said Frazzano. After the ceremony, many attendees participated in a brief beach cleanup, with piled up remains by trash cans showing that not everyone followed the “no fireworks” prohibition over the Fourth of July.