Brent Campbell (photo credit Ron Mendez)

Eight Questions for Brent Campbell

With Howell County Sheriff Mike Shannon retiring this year, the race is on for who will take his place as the chief law enforcement authority in the county after the election this August. There are two Republican candidates in the race: Bryan Hogan and Brent Campbell. Campbell stopped by the news office at Howell County News on June 20 for a discussion of his platform and qualifications in the race for Sheriff. 
For maximum transparency, we are printing both questions and answers from the interview. Responses attributed to Campbell have been edited for clarity, but not for content. 
Howell County News: Please describe your career in law enforcement thus far. 
Brent Campbell: I started my career with Howell County Sheriff’s Office almost 21 years ago under Bill Shephard. I worked a short stint in the jail, then went on the road. I was on patrol for a little while, went to the SWAT team, then I began to work substance abuse cases. I had a knack for that work and took on the MO Smart position as a permanent position. I was one of the youngest investigators with the department. Later, I was approached by the South Central Drug Task Force for employment. I had been with them about 17 years before I trained my replacement and then resigned to run for Sheriff.
HCN: Why do you want to be the Sheriff of Howell County?
BC: It’s always been a goal. Under Bill Shephard, it was something I know someday I would seek to do. With Mike [Shannon] retiring, it felt like my time. It feels more like a calling the more I dig into the betterment of the department. 
HCN: What experience do you have managing law enforcement officers?
BC: I was a team leader with South Central Drug Task Force. I try to make myself the go-to person on every team, to teach, mentor, and lead. 
It’s a model of workplace empowerment for everyone to be a teacher, mentor, and leader from the ground up. For the men and women who have chosen this profession, my goal is to encourage them to self-develop and to educate themselves to better serve the people. To serve and protect, to protect and serve. No matter which way you slice it, 50% of what we do is service.
You have to create space and time. As law enforcement officers interacting with the public, to build an authentic relationship, you have to have space and time. If you have someone in a crisis, to determine what’s going on and provide a conclusion, you have to have that time, and [the Deputies] don’t have it. There are two Deputies on [per shift] who bounce from call to call to call, and they're not afforded that opportunity, that space or time. 
It's a budgetary issue. Manning is an issue across the county. There are so many moving parts, and it’s ever evolving, which is a big part of why we are building the Sheriff-Citizens Advisory Board. As law enforcement if you think there’s a problem [in the community], but you don't have time to develop a solution, you have broken a cog in the wheel of service.
HCN: The Sheriff’s Advisory Board is your idea? Can you tell me more about it?
BC: Yes. It would be made up of voluntary citizens on a rotational basis and would provide an opportunity for my command staff to meet with citizens, and find out what their issues are and then educate them on the issues law enforcement faces. 
I’ve designed a Sheriff’s climate survey so we can always keep a pulse of how we’re doing well or lacking. We can always be better than we were yesterday, or last week, or last month.
HCN: What is your number one priority once you take office?
BC: I have several: first to talk to every individual employee to discuss their goals and get feedback. 
I’m planning inventory and audits. I’m about forecasted budgets.
Next is manning and compensation, creating space and time. Manpower is a huge thing
Building transparency and trust is another big one; to make deputies understand they are a part of something bigger than them. Right now, there is no form of measurement of poor work ethic and great work ethic. If it is not separated, then motivation regresses, and that has to be fixed. 
HCN: Are you planning any sweeping changes or would you prefer to maintain the status quo?
BC: There will be changes as far as the accountability aspect, the leadership model, and the self development model. I have plans for a family resilience program for the deputies, behind the badge, where we can come together to support each other and have those open forms of communication. 
HCN: What is your opinion of the example we have seen of some Sheriffs across the country who have stood up in defense of their constituents in the face of unconstitutional edicts from elected officials? (ex: Sheriff Scott Jenkins in Virginia)
BC: As Sheriff, you are the chief law enforcement officer in the county. We’re sworn to uphold the constitution. I stand with those sheriffs. There is no law abiding citizen whose Second Amendment rights would be infringed upon under my watch.
You are elected by the people to serve the people. The sheriff is a platform to protect those rights. 
HCN: Why are you better than anyone else for Howell County?
BC: I am passionate about this profession. I am passionate about law enforcement, and I am passionate about this community. That heart and that drive gives me a better platform of success. I see a need and do everything in my power to fill it. 
This interview has been edited for brevity, but Campbell addressed additional topics such as breaking the cycle of recidivism, grant funding for law enforcement tools and training, inmate work programs through Howell County Jail, and the undercompensation of Sheriff’s Deputies. He recently applied for and was awarded a Community Oriented Policing (COPS) grant that provided 75% of the funding for two additional deputies. 
“I’m living, sleeping, breathing this,” Campbell said, “just laying awake at night wondering where we are going to get the funding for this or that.”
The election for Howell County Sheriff will take place on August 4.

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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