Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Brent McDowell

J-E Editor
Everyday the people of Webster County are served by the members of our various local law enforcement agencies. From the city police departments to the Sheriff’s office and Fish and Wildlife officers, these men put their lives on the line every day so that we can be safe.
During 2015 the J-E will look to honor each of these officers by telling their story in the pages of our newspaper. Please, join us in thanking these officers for what they do.
Chief Brent McDowell
Brent McDowell has been with the Providence Police Department for ten years. Six of those he has served in his current position as the chief of police. 

He has always wanted to be a police officer, but in the years that he had been in Providence his priorities have change. He now has a nine year old son that is his motivation for doing what he does.
“The best part about this job is that it has allowed me to be off weekends and nights to be with my son,” McDowell said. “Before I was chief, I was working second shift and midnights.”
McDowell grew up in Caldwell County, and served on the Princeton Police Department for nearly 20 years before coming to Providence, first as an auxiliary officer from 1986 to 1989, then as a patrol officer starting in 1989.
Since coming to Providence he says he has seen a lot of changes in the department, from fewer drug related cases to new equipment.
“We don’t see nearly as many drug cases as we used to,” McDowell said. “We’ve seen a big  decline in meth use for the simple fact that it’s harder to get sudafed, one of the main ingredients.”
Laws have limited the amount of sudafed that a person can purchase in a calendar year and requiring prescriptions for higher doses.
“Crystal meth is more of a problem than anhydrous,” he said. “Heroine is making a comeback statewide too. But right now prescription drug use is the main thing going.”
Since McDowell came to Providence, the department has added new vests, patrol rifles and an Army Surplus Humvee to it’s list of equipment.
“Some people don’t understand why we got the Humvee,” McDowell said. “But it was a major asset during the two recent snow storms.”
He explained that the Humvee allows the police department to be available to help nurses get to work at Shemwell Nursing Home, Palmer Place and local doctors office. During the last snowfall it was even used to assist in a medical emergency.
“We had an ambulance get stuck in the snow,” he said. “We took two medics to a house, where we loaded the patient in the back and transported her to another ambulance.”
The Humvees were acquired through a program with Homeland Security to help in situations such as these when it’s impossible to get cruisers out.
But with all of the changes, being a police officer is still a dangerous job. Many times McDowell and his five patrolmen are by themselves when they respond to a call.
“I would love to have two officers on duty at all times,” he said. “We still get several high risk calls. Occasionally we’ll get a bank alarm, and we don’t know when we respond if it’s real or not. We get several domestic violence calls, and lately we’ve been seeing a lot more calls involving people suffering from mental problems. It would be nice if we had backup.”
Like other departments in the county, Providence cooperates with neighboring departments, often giving or receiving assistance and backup from Clay and the Sheriffs Department. The department also gets backed up on occasion by Josh Gunn and Todd Jones, a pair of Fish and Wildlife Officers that live in the county.
At times Providence officers are even called into extreme northern Hopkins County to assist or direct traffic until a Hopkins County Sheriff Deputy or State Trooper can respond. Providence is located right on the county line, and nearest Hopkins County department is 17 miles away.

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