CLEF Profile - Herb Smith

CLEF Profile - Herb Smith
Herb Smith
Executive Director
Christians in Government

I was born in San Diego, grew up in Lakeside, and graduated from SDSU with a BS in Criminal Justice Administration in ’77. I then became a San Diego Police officer from ’78 to ’84, having worked patrol out of the Northern Division station, including the special enforcement unit Beach Team ’80-82, the motorcycle Tactical Squad ’83-84, and SWAT ’80-’84. The Lord then called me into full time Christian ministry, and I resigned from the department to do so.

I entered seminary and graduated from Talbot Theological Seminary in ’87 with a Master of Divinity. I then returned to San Diego and established Christian Law Enforcement Fellowship (CLEF), serving the law enforcement community informally until being sworn in as a chaplain with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department in ’95 and ’96 respectively. I was ordained as a Christian minister in ’93. During this time, I was asked by the then-Assistant San Diego Marshal to establish and develop a San Diego County Marshal’s chaplaincy program, which was later absorbed into the Sheriff’s Department in 2000 when the courts came under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff. I served in leadership with the Sheriff’s program as the Crisis Coordinator and Personnel Director and on its administrative committee, as well as being a patrol chaplain at-large throughout the county. I was also one of three coordinating chaplains for the SDPD program, and chaplain for the Northeastern Station, assisting with the other divisions also. Beginning in ’97, I also served as chaplain for the San Diego District Attorney’s Office and worked with their Peer Support Unit. I retired from these formal positions in July of ’21, after 40 years serving in and with law enforcement. Each year CLEF still plans and hosts an annual county-wide Law Enforcement and Emergency Personnel Prayer Breakfast, and an annual law enforcement marriage retreat. I also continue to meet with retired personnel and minister with LE memorials and weddings. My best contact number is my cell: (858) 442-6417; or else my home office (858) 486-1926. My E-mail is

CLEF Profile - Herb Smith

I have been married to Debbie since ’84, who enjoyed home schooling our now grown children, Caleb (’88), Nathan (’90), Anna (’93) and Christa (’95). My life interests include focused time and travel with my family, firearms, biking, gardening, firearms, and serving as an Elder at our church.

Some major incidents of involvement:

  • PSA Crash Flight 182, 1978
  • Ebletoft and Tiffany homicide SWAT response, 1981
  • Los Angeles World Olympics, Tactical Squad Security Unit, 1984
  • Heaven’s Gate Homicides, 1997
  • Pat Coyle Helicopter crash, 1997
  • Santana School Shooting, 2001
  • 2003 and 2007 County Firestorms
  • Miramar Jet crash into residences, 2009
  • Ken Collier fatal collision, 2010
  • Chealsea King/Amber Dubois, 2010
  • Numerous debriefings and Emergency Negotiation Team callouts since


  • BS, Criminal Justice Administration, SDSU, 1977
  • SDPD Academy Basic Training Certificate, 1978
  • Basic CA POST Certificate, 1979
  • Intermediate CA POST Certificate, 1980
  • SDPD SWAT Academy Training Certificate, 1980
  • Advanced CA POST Certificate, 1984
  • Master of Divinity, Talbot School of Theology, BIOLA University, 1987
  • Certificate of Ordination, Christians In Government, 1993
  • Basic and Advanced CISM Training, ICISF
  • Peer Support Training from The Counseling Team, SDSO
  • Training Certificate, Role of Pastoral Care Provider in CISM, ICISF
  • Office for Domestic Preparedness, WMD Incident Command Course (COBRA), Center for Domestic Preparedness, 9/2-6, 2003, Anniston, GA
  • Pastoral Crisis Intervention I, ICISF
  • Pastoral Crisis Intervention II, ICISF
  • Grief Following Trauma, ICISF
  • Emergency Management Institute, FEMA, IS-00100, Intro. to the Incident Command System
  • Emerg. Mgt. Inst., FEMA, IS-00200, ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents
  • Basic Course CA POST Training Certificate for Law Enforcement Chaplain, Law Enforcement Chaplain Consortium