Lawton police chief resigns Tuesday

Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith worked a total of 37 years for the police department before resigning Tuesday. Smith's former assistant chief, James Apple, has been named acting chief.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: March 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm •  Published: March 6, 2012
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— Lawton's police chief resigned Tuesday.

Ronnie Smith was on the police force for 37 years and served as chief for seven years.

He could not be reached for comment, but Assistant City Manager Bryan Long said Smith's resignation was voluntary and was not a disciplinary action.

“This is a simple case of a man that served 37 ½ noble years of public service,” Long said. “I can also tell you there's no cloud of lingering suspicion, nothing out of the ordinary.”

The police department drew some negative attention under Smith's leadership after an arbitrator ruled in October that a former head of special operations was fired unjustly.

The city appealed the decision earlier this month. Long said it had nothing to do with Smith's resignation.

The department's assistant police chief, James Apple, has been named acting chief until a permanent chief is hired, Long said. That process is expected to take as long as six months.

“(Apple), too, is a longtime veteran of the Lawton Police Department, so we anticipate a seamless transition at least in terms of management style,” Long said.