Long time patrol officer to hang up the handcuffs

BY MELONIE ROBERTS [email protected]

Kermit Howell has never heard of the big quit, the trend of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs en masse, starting in early 2021.

In fact, the Monett Police Department Patrol Constable was the personification of a generation that committed to a strict work ethic, showing up on time and ready to go.

“I spent 43 years in law enforcement,” he said. “I knew a few deputies when I was a kid and I kind of looked up to them. I always wanted to become a policeman. »

Howell began his career in 1978, working as a dispatcher and jailer for the Barry County Sheriff’s Office. In September 1978, he started as a police officer for the Cassville Police Department, where he worked until January 1980, when he returned to the Barry County Sheriff’s Office under the newly elected Sheriff Jim Hopkins, and again worked as a dispatcher and jailer before being promoted. to the deputy of the road.

Howell joined the Monett Police Department in August 1986 as a full-time police officer. He was promoted to the rank of corporal in 1994, then in September 1996 he was promoted to the rank of patrol sergeant.

“Sergeant. Howell has proudly served the City of Monett for 36 years,” said Monett Police Chief George Daoud. “He has a very long and distinguished career in law enforcement in our region.”

Howell doesn’t think it’s that bad.

“There’s nothing really exceptional about bringing home a salary and supporting your family for 43 years,” he said.

Others might see it differently.

Officers, firefighters and medics are the first to rush towards disaster when others flee the scene. They see the trauma of motor vehicle accidents, the hellish consequences of someone addicted to drugs, and often they have to deal with individuals or families who are truly having the worst day of their lives. Howell suffered the repercussions of some of these scenes.

“I was working in the Barry County Sheriff’s Office when Bill Coyne was brought from Monett to the jail,” he said. “He was sitting in his chair after he and his wife had an argument, and he took a gun and shot her when she got in the car to leave. It happened here on Pearl Street. There were rumors that some family members were going to take him out, so they put an armed guard down the hall near [Coyne’s] cell with a shotgun in his lap. They took it very seriously. We had to announce ourselves when entering through the front door, or risk being shot.

Technology has also come a long way since the late 1970s. With more safety equipment available to local departments, as well as the placement of computers in offices and patrol cars, Howell saw a number of upgrades throughout his career.

Howell banged his Kevlar vest.

“I don’t like this thing,” he said. “It’s hot. It’s heavy. If it were up to me, I’d throw it in the trash. But they say I have to wear it, so I do. Same with body cameras.

And when it comes to on-board computers, Howell is puzzled by some of the “youngsters” in the force.

“If the computer crashes, they say they can’t write a ticket,” he said. “I’ve been writing paper tickets for most of my career. After 43 years, I can write a ticket by hand faster than these kids can fill it out on the computer.”

Howell, who enjoys photography, travel and spending time with his wife, Jacquie, and sons, Eric and Adam, plans to retire to his beef cow/calf operation in rural Purdy. But he has a few bucket list items he’d like to tick off before it’s all said and done.

“I would like to see England, Ireland and Scotland,” he said. “And then Australia and New Zealand. My father once told me that Australians and New Zealanders are the most like Americans, in their sense of humor and their understanding of the language. He told me that if I wanted to travel, these were the safest places to visit.

Of course, first and foremost, Howell and his wife have grandparenting duties to perform.

“One of my grandchildren is coming to spend a week with us,” he said. “I will be on vacation then and I look forward to spending this time together.

“I hope to teach all my grandchildren how to use a metal detector on the beach or in the mountains,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and I hope to pass that on to them.”

And maybe, just maybe, he’ll take them to High Mountain Pies in Leadville, Colorado, for some of the best pizza he’s ever tasted.

“If you ever get there, you should give it a try,” he said.

The Monett Police Department will host a retirement party for Howell from 1 to 3 p.m. on August 30 at the Monett South Park Casino. Visitors are invited to stop and give their regards.

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