T.J. Smith is seemingly everywhere in Baltimore.

If he’s not using Periscope to update the media or giving a press conference, he’s posting to Twitter or Facebook. He does all of these things because he is the spokesman for Baltimore City Police.

Baltimore native T.J. Smith has been the face of the Baltimore Police Department for the past year. (Courtesy Photo)

In addition to his day job, the Baltimore native enjoys gardening. While Smith often delivers bad news in the form of updates of shootings, robberies and murders, in person he’s a lighthearted, open, and approachable regular guy who is trying to make the city he grew up in a better place to live in.

As a PIO (Public Information Officer), Smith’s duties include keeping the public, as well as the media, informed on any breaking news that takes place including police involved shootings, murders, robberies, and anything else of significance. Sometimes the update will come in the form of an email or Smith will hold a live briefing and he usually arrives on scene quickly. But Smith is more than just the voice of BCPD.

T.J. Smith grew up in the Northwest Baltimore area on Dolfield Ave. He attended Calloway Elementary, Fallstaff Elementary Middle, and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Smith attended Polytechnic for a few years before transferring to Woodlawn High, where he graduated from.

Smith’s mother has been a city school teacher for almost 30 years and his wife is a teacher of 15 years that currently teaches 5th grade. Both of his grandparents worked at the main post office downtown, as well as an aunt. Another aunt was a major with the housing authority police. “All of my family is right here in Baltimore so I’m here back in Baltimore in my natural element. I grew up right in these city streets seeing what a lot of people are seeing today,” Smith tells the {AFRO}.

Before coming back to Baltimore a year ago, Smith was a police officer in Anne Arundel County for more than a decade. For the first half of his career, Smith was assigned to a community that “had similar problems and segments as Baltimore City has. It was great. I got paid to interact with the community and help them solve some of their problems and partner with them. So I was literally a community police my entire career and then on the second half of my career, I became the spokesperson for the county.”

Law enforcement was not a huge presence in Smith’s life growing up so becoming an police officer was not his first dream. “I wanted to be an architect. I remember going to Poly and doing my engineering stuff. I wanted to design office buildings and design houses; I was all into that creative stuff. I wanted to really do some dope stuff like you can enter your bedroom from the outside the house type of stuff,” he says.

Smith says it all started when he was attending college at the Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville where he took a criminal justice course and liked it. After that he did some security work and became a police officer.

As a prominent Black man who speaks for a police department that has often had strained relations with a predominantly Black city, Smith is aware of the conflict inherent in his position.

“It’s conflicting at times (to be both a Black man and an officer) because I do see what we’re trying to do and it’s not recognized because of the uniform’s officer’s wear. I want it to be conveyed when I speak that it hurts every time we get a report on another young, Black male killed in the city. I get offended because this is my city. I want young, Black kids to see that I went to the same schools they did and this is the path I chose. I’m not a bad guy. I’m not out here hurting people; you can ‘make it out’ of the situation that you’re in,” he says.

“Any person that wears this uniform that wants to kill somebody shouldn’t be in our job and I hope we can get rid of them. I have a young, Black son that’s going to grow up one day and any person that’s scared of my skin color and if their making decisions because their scared of my skin color, they should not be wearing a police officer’s uniform, period.”

Smith replaced Capt. Eric Kowalczyk as spokesman last August and was brought on by new Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. He took a year-long leave from his position as director of media relations for the Anne Arundel police department.

“If I have a choice, I would stay and continue to work in Baltimore. My time here has been rewarding, it’s been the best time to be here. I work with absolutely amazing men and women,” he said.