Harlan County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Howard has held many jobs in a 28-year law enforcement career, but perhaps none have fit him better than his current post at Harlan County High School. He feels he found a home as a school resource officer when HCHS opened eight years ago.
“To help people any way I can,” Howard said when asked what policing means to him. “I have been a school resource officer since I have been with the sheriff’s office, and I enjoy working with the kids and keeping them safe in the schools. I treat everyone I meet the way I would like to be treated — with respect.”
Harlan County Sheriff Leslie “Smitty” Smith says Howard’s experience is valuable to the department and notes that he’s especially good working with the teenagers he encounters at HCHS.
“I have known and worked with Bill for many years,” Smith said. “He and I worked together taking calls when he worked for the Harlan City Police Department and I was a young patrolman. He enjoys working with our youth as a school resource officer and gets along well with the students and staff. We are proud to have Bill as a member of the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office.”
Howard, 63, of Harlan, graduated from James A. Cawood High School in 1970.
Before entering police work, Howard worked as a coal miner for six years. He was also a member of the Wallins Volunteer Fire Department for 18 years.
Howard started his law enforcement career with the Harlan City Police Department in 1987, staying with that agency for 18 years. He worked as an International Police Liaison Officer for one year, from 2004 until 2005. After that, he worked with the Evarts Police Department for a year and a half before hiring on with the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office.
Howard has also served in the military, pulling a three-year hitch in the U.S. Army. He also has spent seven years serving in the Kentucky National Guard.
He has served in the capacity of school resource officer (SRO) since joining the sheriff’s office eight years ago.
According to the Kentucky Center for School Safety’s website, Kentucky statutes define a SRO as a sworn law enforcement officer who has specialized training to work with youth at a school site. These SROs serve in a variety of roles, including law enforcement officer, law-related educator, problem-solver, and community liaison. There are approximately 230 SRO’s in over half of Kentucky’s counties.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde