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Dan Smith is our “Friend of Freedom” award winner for June 2021 because of his generous support to Gratitude Charlottesville and our local law enforcement community.  In describing his passion for law enforcement, Dan explained: “I became interested in policing and law and enforcement related work after 9/11. At that time, I was a freshman in college and began taking a lot of courses within what would become my major, Criminal Justice.  After pursuing another one of my passions, playing music and touring as a professional drummer, I began working in the private security industry and then worked for more than 5 years as an Albemarle County Police Officer.”

Dan believes that most citizens within our country want and support a transparent and well-funded police department, particularly so that local departments can protect and serve communities more effectively, especially those in need of police services the most. “I’m confident in saying that I believe the vast majority of police officers would love to be funded and equipped with more tools of transparency, such as body cameras, so they and the victim/witnesses they interact with can have more evidentiary backing in court. In return, those who feel wrongfully prosecuted should also be afforded more video and audio access that may back their claims. With advances in technology, we should be driving narratives of solution and support for our law enforcement agencies.

When asked what “made his day” when serving as an officer, Dan responded: “Going on calls and helping community members with whatever issues they needed help with. A lot of people believe policing is all about enforcement. That is only a reactive element and a small portion of the job. Most of the time you are responding to calls for service, taking reports, assisting fire/rescue, responding to house alarms, responding to suspicious activity calls etc. You are a community servant with very specific training. It’s a special job that comes with a feeling of being in a unique position to help others.”

Dan’s current life is very full. An entrepreneur, he started his own custom apparel company called Footprint Apparel, which specialize in graphic design services such as vectoring and logo creation, screen printing, heat transfer, and embroidery on thousands of domestically sourced products. To embrace his love of music, he formed a live band entertainment business where he manages and plays drums with some of the area’s most talented musicians.

Dan believes it’s important to show support to our local police. “We need to break down barriers of division with more open lines of communication. Interact with officers when you see them in public. Give them an immediate morale boost by letting them know you support them. If you have questions, take advantage of any public awareness initiatives or community functions your local department may be offering. Start engaging in your neighborhood watch forums or apps and alert police of any suspicious activity you witness. Bottom line, we need to re-learn how to work with law enforcement agencies again.”

Each month, “The Freedom Fund”  Board of Directors will choose a FOF award winner to be featured on  Winners will get a trophy and sometimes a monetary award.  To nominate person or organization that promotes and protects freedom in our community, email us at

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