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New York Mills police officer Ron Smith is in a weeks-long battle with COVID-19

“They need all the prayers they can to get through today,” said Tina Gritz, who started a Go Fund Me page for the Smith family to encourage praying for Ron and giving people a way to help.

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Ron Smith, a well-known and beloved police officer in New York Mills, is battling COVID-19. (Contributed / GoFundMe/ Perham Focus)
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New York Mills police officer Ron Smith is battling for his life against COVID-19.

Beloved by many in the local communities he's served during his 14 years in law enforcement, Smith is known as a "really good guy" who's “pretty phenomenal," according to some of those closest to him.

Smith was admitted to Lakewood Health System in Staples on Nov. 26 and was put on a ventilator to help him breathe. He was later transferred to St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, where he remains on machines to keep him alive, nearly 20 days after that first admittance.

The Smith family is asking for prayers for healing, strength and overcoming COVID-19.

“They need all the prayers they can to get through today,” said Tina Gritz, who started a GoFundMe page for the Smith family to encourage prayers and give people a way to help.


Gritz is married to Perham Chief of Police James Gritz and works at Essentia Health in Detroit Lakes. She said tough situations like this make people feel helpless, as things are “in the hand of God,” and offering prayers and donations is a way to do something.

Smith has served as a police officer in New York Mills, Perham and Wadena, and is a current part-time deputy with the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office. He previously served as the Motley Chief of Police and worked as a probation agent for Todd-Wadena Community Corrections . When he joined the New York Mills team, Gritz said, he planned to stay until retirement.

Perham Police Officer Ron Smith has been recognized as an Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer by the Otter Tail County Safe Communities Coalition. Submitted photo

From previous corrections clients to fellow law enforcement peers, Smith is “well-respected,” said Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr.

During Carr’s time as a patrol deputy, he sometimes rode with Smith and answered Smith's questions about policing. Carr said Smith had a “burning desire” to make the switch from corrections to law enforcement at around 40 years old.

“It doesn’t matter who he deals with … he’s just got a good disposition about him,” he said.

“He’s just such a positive person,” said Gritz.


“Ron is a wonderful guy and has been a part of our communities giving back,” the Wadena Fire Department wrote in a Facebook post. “Help out Ron during this difficult time and give him prayers.”

Smith is proud to talk about his family, grandchildren, and their farm in Motley, Gritz said, adding that he and her husband developed a close relationship when raising their “wild child” teenagers. Smith has a knack for forming friendships with people, as he enjoys spending hours of time chatting and sharing stories.

He’s “not just a 'Hi' and 'Bye' person,” Gritz said.

“One thing about Ron that I’ve always admired and liked about Ron was his character and his faith, (he's a) very strong person that way,” Carr said.

To support the Smith family, they encourage prayers. A GoFundMe donation page is also available.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in enhancing online articles as well as education, feature and health reporting.
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