I just wanted to take some time and say thank you to the citizens of Howell County for entrusting me with the coveted position of being your sheriff.

As I reflect over 2020, how does one put into words the good, the bad, and the ugly? As I’ve stated in the past we live in a great community, filled with people that come together in times of crisis, with extraordinary leaders, and we are a resilient and giving community.

I pray 2021 brings us the ability to find respite for all those who have voiced loss and struggles on so many levels, including my own family. Even through those tests and struggles we experienced, I am able to still see so many joys, as well. I would like to speak of one of those joys.

I want to say how excited I am to continue the transformational changes internally and externally with the office of sheriff. I would like to personally thank retired Sheriff James M. (Mike) Shannon and others before him for passing on the office with a great foundation for building positive change. I’ve stated in the past; change is inevitable — it’s creating positive change we must master. 

I reflect back on a specific question posed to me during the campaign, “What is something great at the sheriff’s office?” and my reply, “The employees.” The people within that office making things happen.

Deputies, jailers, clerks and dispatch are all there to serve the citizens of this county. They operate and police in a climate nowadays which is formidable, to say at the least. These professionals, in order to perform their job, still pay out of their own finances for uniforms, duty gear, weapons and other tools to do what is asked and required them, even though they are statistically undercompensated.

They sacrifice holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, time with family in order to serve and protect the citizens of this beloved county. These individuals handle the dangers of the profession, the stressors of the job, carry hardships, the victimization we see, the destruction seen — and return the next day to serve the citizens.

I not only look forward to serving the citizens, I look forward to serving those having chosen to follow the calling of this selfless profession. I look forward to creating a sheriff’s office that brings motivation, inspiration, opportunity, leadership, accountability, professionalism and transparency. I hope I’m able to earn the citizens’ trust as well as employees’ as we move toward a vision for this office together, and we are well on our way. 

We have already accomplished several things: 

- The Deputy Supplemental Salary Funding Grant was secured. 

- The U.S. Department of Justice COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grant was obtained securing two additional commissioned deputies. 

- Mobile data terminals or computers were secured for deputies’ use in their issued patrol vehicles, along with a new report management system that is both MIBRS- and NIBRS-compliant and is also web-based to be used with the mobile data terminals. 

- Some funding was allocated for uniforms for employees.

- We are still waiting on a response on a block grant application for several body worn cameras.

- We have started placing decals on vehicles and marking the vehicle fleet to match. 

- We’ve started formulating the Howell County major case squad, joint effort with the West Plains, Mtn. View and Willow Springs police departments. More information will follow about this special investigation unit in the future. 

- We’ve launched the new sheriff’s office website at sites.google.com/site/sheriffhcmo/home. I ask the citizens to go view it and bookmark for many areas of interest. It is a one-stop shop for a lot of useful information and I’m very proud of this site. A special thank you to active duty Army First Sgt. Jason McDaniel for his hard work and guidance. As you go through the page or open the page make note of the banner in blue labeled Sheriff’s Strategic Plan. This plan will provide an overview of things I would like to see completed within my first term. 

- Updating the Facebook page which I also asked the citizens to go and like in order to stay current with many updates; this too will be another avenue of information sharing for the public. 

- A K9 vehicle was donated and will be assigned to Deputy Matt Foster who allocated the vehicle and also owns a very well-trained narcotics detection canine he purchased out of his own finances in order to enhance the sheriff’s office capabilities. Matt and his canine partner Sagan will be able to respond to requests for service with this marked vehicle. 

I plan to meet with each employee and go over their talent management packet which I requested for them to complete. This packet included a new application with background investigation information and waiver, biographical statement, survey, short- and long-term goals both personal and work related.

Howell County citizens, I ask for patience as this transition takes place. I promise I will keep you informed of the happenings and also know you have a great group of people within your office of sheriff that are here to serve and protect.

I have a lot to complete in the first month to include security checks of the facility and courthouse, and a long list of organizational inspections, staff interviews, organizational structure, implementation of systems, operational and strategic budget presentations, property inventory, training and review of current operations. 

One thing I spoke of during my campaign was creating a sheriff citizens’ advisory board. I’m looking at possibly changing that up and implementing a Sheriff’s citizen academy, and build off the academy with citizens as board members on a rotational bases.

I hope to have the structure and classes put together by summer and reach out to the community for interest in participating. I look forward to the year ahead, and meeting more of those within this great area.

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