A fallen Tri-Valley police officer has been memorialized along the gateway to his hometown.
The state has renamed the stretch of Interstate 680 between Bollinger Canyon and Crow Canyon roads in San Ramon in honor of BART Police Det. Sgt. Thomas "Tommy" Smith Jr., who was the first BART officer to die in the line of duty when he was mistakenly shot and killed by a fellow detective while serving a search warrant in a Dublin arrestee's apartment in 2014.
"Tommy's death really shocked our community," said Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, who spearheaded legislation to memorialize Smith along I-680. "I think this memorial highway is a very fitting way to honor someone who was serving us and trying to keep our community safe."
The "Detective Sergeant Thomas A. Smith Jr. Memorial Highway" signs, which were paid for with private donations, were unveiled during a ceremony last week attended by Smith's family, friends and colleagues.
The sign locations, just in front of each Bollinger Canyon Road off-ramp, were inspired by Smith's daughter Summer, who noticed those ramps were labeled as exit No. 34 -- the same as the badge number worn by her late father.
"I am grateful to Assemblywoman Baker for making Summer's dream a reality ... Her daddy will never be forgotten, and the sign will bring a smile to our faces every time we go home," said Kellie Smith, widow of Det. Sgt. Smith and herself a former longtime BART police officer.
Current BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas also attended last week's ceremony, saying, "We are grateful to Assemblywoman Baker for making the memorial highway a reality."
"Tommy spent his entire law enforcement career at BART, working to ensure a safe and secure environment for our riders and employees," Rojas added. "Having this portion of Highway 680 named in his honor is a tribute to his service to the community and commitment to his family."
Smith's friendly-fire death proved a turning point for BART police training and search procedures.
A 23-year veteran of BART, Smith was leading a team of eight officers searching the Dublin home of a man in custody on suspicion of robbery on Jan. 21, 2014.
Officers moved to different parts of the apartment, and upon rounding a corner, Det. Michael Maes mistook a plainclothes Smith for an armed suspect and fired a single -- and ultimately fatal -- shot that struck Smith in the chest. Smith was 42 years old.
In addition to the policy changes for BART police, the agency also settled a wrongful death suit in the case with Smith's family for $3.1 million and no admission of fault.