GRUNDY CENTER, Iowa (KWWL) – The Iowa State Patrol Sergeant killed in Friday night's standoff in Grundy Center was no relative newcomer to the force. In total, he spent nearly three decades with the Iowa State Patrol.
Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith spent 27 years with the Iowa State Patrol after graduating from the academy in 1993. He first started with the Fairfield post before transferring to the Oelwein post in 1996. The Oelwein post is where he stayed for the remainder of his career and became active in his community and church.
"Sergeant Jim Smith. I'm going to keep saying his name until his sacrifice is seared upon the hearts of anybody who can hear my voice,” said Stephan Bayens, Commissioner with the Iowa Department of Public Safety, during an emotional news conference Saturday afternoon.
Sergeant Smith was recognized as recently as 2018 by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in their Patrol Member Spotlight. He was also the leader of the Area C Tactical Team, devoting time on and off duty.
He is the eleventh Iowa State Patrol member to die in the line of duty, the first in a decade. He is only the second Patrol member to have been shot and killed, the first being Trooper Oran Pape in 1936. Sergeant Smith leaves behind his wife and two children.
Authorities arrested Michael Thomas Lang, 41, of Grundy Center, for the standoff and killing Smith.
According to Mitch Mortvedt, Assistant Director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Lang was well-known to local law enforcement.
Lang's online court records show he had frequent run-ins with the law in the last two decades. Most charges against him involved alcohol, disorderly conduct or driving without a license. Driving without a license is what initiated Friday night's encounter.
"He was barred from driving and a local Grundy Center officer recognized him and saw him driving,” said Mortvedt.
Lang also had an unsuccessful bid for Grundy County Sheriff as recently as this past November. He lost with 22 percent of the vote to Sheriff Kirk Dolleslager who was Chief Deputy at the time.
This incident comes less than three weeks after a correctional officer and nurse were killed at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.