Retired trooper Harmon joins OCSO

By Dave Rogers
For The Record

Pardon Richard Howard if he seems a tad involved in his new job as Patrol Captain with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
“My biggest transition is learning how to do a new job,” he said four days into his first week on the job. “I’ve been in the DPS for 22 years. It’s what I’ve grown up with.
“There are a lot of similarities, but there are a lot of differences. The Sheriff’s Office and the DPS have different objectives.”
Howard, a native and resident of Vidor, recently retired from the Department of Public Safety, where he carried the rank of Sergeant. He was responsible for overseeing 12 officers but also active in the field.
At the Sheriff’s Office he’s in charge of the 26 deputies and dispatchers in the Patrol Division.
Other responsibilities involve assisting the sheriff and chief deputy and assisting with the department budget.
“Richard brings a wealth of law enforcement experience, especially in the field of patrol duties and responsibilities,” Sheriff Keith Merritt said.
Howard attained a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Lamar University in Beaumont and is a Master Peace Officer with over 3,300 hours of continuing education. 
He is also a decorated Army combat veteran.
“I was in the service for 27 years,” he said. “First in active service, then the reserve. I was mobilized twice.”
Howard was an infantryman whose reserve call-ups involved serving in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea and in Iraq.
“I’ve never been as cold in my life as I was in Korea, and I’ve never been as hot in my life as I was in Iraq,” he said.
With the DPS, Howard began as a trooper and spent 10 years operating out of Orange. After his promotion to sergeant, he served three years at the Capitol in Austin, four years in Huntsville, then back to Orange County for five years.
“Change is always good,” Howard said. “I’ve done a lot of years in DPS, and I wanted to transition to something that’s different.
“This job is very important, and that’s why I wanted to do it.”