A six-year veteran of the Columbia Police Department has been dismissed from the force following his arrest Friday on suspicion of stalking a former girlfriend, using phone calls, letters and a vehicular tracking device.
Todd Smith, 31, is charged with misdemeanor stalking, a Class A misdemeanor.
If convicted, Smith could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Smith was released from the Boone County Jail on bail early Saturday morning.
“We have a standard, and that standard was not met by Todd Smith,” Columbia police Capt. Michael Martin said. “So we took quick and swift action against him.”
Smith was arrested at his Ash Street apartment at 7 p.m. Friday, a day after a 21-year-old woman found what appeared to be a tracking device concealed in her vehicle.
She told police that her relationship with Smith lasted approximately seven months, and that since they broke up in mid-December, she has received anonymous letters, phone calls and text messages “of a disturbing nature.”
“Finding the device was a significant event for the victim,” Martin said. “Obviously she was greatly concerned and came to us after that.”
An ongoing investigation determined that the tracking device belonged to Smith, according to a police news release. He was at first placed on administrative leave, then fired, Martin said.
Smith did not answer telephone calls to his apartment Saturday.
Martin said police found evidence that Smith had purchased the tracking device — a 3-by-4-inch box with an antenna — on the Internet. The device is similar to a Global Positioning System unit, Martin said, although the location of the vehicle is not relayed in real time.
“He knew where she was, when she got there and how long she was there,” Martin said. “He knew every place she went and where she moved. This is not permitted.”
Martin said police suspect Smith also used the Internet to shield his identity when he made the calls and text messages.
Misdemeanor stalking falls under domestic violence statutes and may carry jail time, a fine or both. Martin said there is no evidence that Smith threatened the woman, which would have elevated the crime to a felony.
Martin said this was the first known case of a tracking device being used to stalk someone in Columbia.
“Based on the fact that high-tech tools are now available to everyone,” he said, “it’s reasonable to believe that this sort of thing will be on the rise.”