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By Morgan Cullen

Oce Smith, longtime sergeant-at-arms in the West Virginia Legislature, was honored recently with the National Legislative Services and Security Association's President's Charter Member Achievement Award.

NLSSA President Rick DeLeon presented the award in honor of Smith's 45 years of service to NLSSA and the West Virginia Legislature.

Smith had a storied career in West Virginia where he served under a dozen governors and 13 House speakers during his tenure. He was also one of just a handful of sergeants who founded the national legislative security organization in 1973.    

Pictured from left behind Smith are NLSSA lifetime member Dennis Trimble, DeLeon, Sandy Trimble and Robin Stultz.

A tribute to Oce Smith noted that "as the longest serving legislative officer in the country, all delegates knew they could depend on Oce for his vast institutional knowledge and keen historical understanding of West Virginia. As sergeant at arms, Oce Smith worked tirelessly overseeing the day-to-day services and operations of the house chamber while maintaining the security of his members and the general public.

"While Oce’s accomplishments are widely recognized throughout the halls of the West Virginia capitol, it was through his thoughtful leadership as an NLSSA charter member that he established a national reputation. 

"NLSSA was founded during a turbulent period in American history when issues such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War were widely deliberated at dinner tables and street corners across the country. The United States had entered into a new era of social consciousness and peaceful protests could sometimes erupt with violent consequences both for demonstrators and the general public. 

"For Sergeants at Arms like Oce Smith who were responsible for the well-being of their members, capitol buildings and the general public, it meant they needed to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing environment. With this realization, Oce began to communicate regularly with his counterparts in other states to develop a set of best practices and security plans that could be used not only in the West Virginia House of Delegates but in every capitol building across the country."

Read the full tribute.

Morgan Cullen is the NCSL liaison to the National Legislative Services and Security Association. Email Morgan.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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