Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

August 15, 2013

Chief of police

Howell deserving of Princeton post

— — Congratulations are in order for veteran police officer J.W. Howell Jr., who was officially named Monday as the new chief of police for the city of Princeton.

Howell had been the Princeton Police Department’s acting chief since late June following the retirement of former Chief P.V. Powell. City Manager Elke Doom informed Howell last week that he would be the city’s new police chief, and he was officially sworn in as police chief during Monday’s meeting of the Princeton City Council.

While serving as the city’s interim police chief, Howell instituted a number of initiatives that have brought a new level of professionalism and responsiveness to the department, with an exceptionally positive response from the community, according to Doom.

“He has many ideas to improve the department that are limited by the interim title, often used for one who is ‘holding down the fort’ until a permanent chief is selected,” Doom said last week. “By appointing him as our new chief of police, he will be in a position to institute his long-term goals for the department.”

Howell joined the Princeton Police Department as a patrolman in 1991. He also worked for a year and a half at the Athens Police Department before joining the city police department.

Howell’s plans include reorganizing the department so each shift will have a lieutenant and a sergeant on duty. This would involve speaking with the state’s Civil Service Commission and redoing the department’s promotional process. The procedure now consists of a written test and seniority. Plans are also underway to add more personnel to the police department, which has suffered from staffing shortages in recent years.

“Right now we have 18 officers and we’re in the process of doing backgrounds now to hire two more,” Howell said.

When asked why he chose a career in law enforcement, Howell points to his father, and his work in public service.

“He was a fireman over here in Princeton and he was fire chief,” Howell said. “And I wanted to be in public service. I tested with the fire department and the police department, and the police department called first.”

We are glad to see that a local, veteran officer will serve as the city’s next police chief. Howell has extensive experience with the department, having worked his way up through the ranks over the years, and that experience should serve him and the police department well.

We join Doom and the Princeton City Council in congratulating Howell on his selection as chief of police.

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