Letter to the Editor

Citizens of Erath County,

Kent Howell

I have recently been asked why I am no longer working at the Erath County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO).  To be transparent, I have chosen to release a public statement.  During this early campaign season, I have visited with multiple people and the question of my termination from the Erath County Sheriff’s Office often comes up.  I have and will always remain open, honest, transparent, and accountable, regardless of the situation.  This public statement was not something I wanted to put online but I believe our residents deserve transparency and truth. 

I began my career in law enforcement in 2006 as a jailer at the Erath County jail.  I enrolled and completed training in the police academy and in 2008 had the opportunity to move into the Pre-Trial Investigator position at the Erath county courthouse.  I worked in that position until 2016 when I became the Erath County Attorney Investigator.  During this time, I worked closely with Matt Coates, District Attorney Investigator.  Once Coates was appointed Sheriff, I accepted the opportunity to work at the Erath County Sheriff’s Office under his leadership.  I was described by Sheriff Coates as an asset to the department in a newspaper article not long after he took office.  Within six months of working there I was promoted to patrol sergeant.  I received commendation letters and was in charge of multiple additional duties because of my leadership abilities, loyalty, and support.  

In May of 2019, I was contacted by a former ECSO employee with information regarding a rumor that allegedly involved Sheriff Coates.  I assured the person I would not be party to any alleged rumors, in hopes to stop further rumors being spread.  

During this time the Sheriff found out that I somehow knew about this rumor and he called me into the office and placed me on administrative leave with pay.  I asked why and all he said was that it was for “rumors.” An investigation of the situation went on for about a week and I was called in and terminated for violating the Garrity order, later being exonerated for the alleged violation.  The Garrity order states law enforcement officers are not allowed to discuss internal investigations with anyone except spouses, attorneys, and spiritual advisors.  Sheriff Coates thought I had talked to a member of the press.  I was able to clear my name of that assumed accusation, so the department changed the termination paperwork to read that I was terminated for running a license plate for personal use.  In November of 2018, I did make the regrettable choice of running the license plate of a truck that was parked at the home where my children reside with their mother part-time.  Having two young daughters, I wanted to know who was around them.  Running the plate for personal use was wrong and not the best way to handle the concern for my children. I took responsibility and owned my mistake for which I am truly sorry.  

The ECSO knew about the license plate when they terminated me for rumors, but it was not mentioned in that paperwork.  Once I was exonerated of the Garrity order charge, instead of getting my job back, I was fired for running the license plate, referring to the incident that had occurred eight months prior. 

Running for Sheriff has always been my career goal and my intent is pure without vindication or anger.  I have forgiven Sheriff Coates and wish him and his family the best.  The decision to run for Erath County Sheriff was after prayerful consideration and my priorities being to serve God, my family, and the citizens of our wonderful community.  

Being born and raised here, I know this community and its residents.  I am not a “good ‘ol boy,” but rather a hometown boy who cares deeply about this community and the betterment of it.  Those who know me, know I am approachable, compassionate, and have always had an open line of communication in every position I have held.  This is not about the title or money as I could go out of town and make more money as a deputy than what our county Sheriff is paid.  I do not view this as a job – it’s a way of life for me and I am vested in this community.  If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me by phone, email, or Facebook message.  I’ll gladly respond or meet with you in person.  I am dedicated to this position and will be accountable to each and every one of you. 

With Sincerity and Respect,

Kent Howell, candidate for Erath County Sheriff

5 Comments

  1. Corruption always starts small with a “valid” excuse, when gone unchecked it then grows to the depth and breadth of its container. So we have your side of the story but the Sherriff’s department will not be able to defend it’s actions due to policies about releasing termination information on an employee.
    I work in HR and know any employee investigation will lead to dirty laundry if the employee is not completely above board. You obviously were not.
    And for those that will vote for this man because his father and mother are well respected people- shame on you. You vote on a person’s individual merit, not their family. Not everyone turns out to be a decent human to everyone because their parents are. Some are jerks to anyone who doesn’t figure into their grand plan for life or impends it.
    This candidate to should look first to his house before presenting himself to judge others and their houses.

  2. I see folks saying that he had a right to ensure the safety of his children. So stalking your exwife’s house and running “strange vehicle’s” license numbers is okay because your kid’s are safe and you are a cop and have that access. Stalking is a crime and I feel for the ex because she had a cop driving by her house running plates on cars after they were divorced and she was charged with the safety of the kids. Somehow this is better than a normal person doing the same but with lessor resources?
    This is why cops get a bad rap- people defending this behavior when they would abhor it in others. The sherriffs office did the right thing.

  3. You can pull public records which will include termination and discipline information. I’ve know multiple cops, deputies and DPS officers in Erath county who have done this. They admit it and say it’s pretty typical. I also know that Kent and his ex-wife are on very good terms so he wasn’t stalking her. She has dated some guys with rough histories and he wanted to see who was in the house with his kids. It’s not right, but it’s also not the worst thing in the world. I have respect that he was honest. And we shouldn’t vote for him because of his family. We should vote based on the candidate himself. Our current sheriff has a lot of drama and questions surrounding him. Kent is also not the only one to be let go without due process. That agency has done this to several deputies and dispatchers. People can vote for whoever they want but don’t pretend any of them are without sin. I know we are paying for their salaries and Coates ran a campaign luncheon during the day with the DA there. I don’t appreciate my tax dollars going towards his campaign. If I want to donate to a campaign I’ll do so. When you’re on the clock you should be serving our resident, not hosting a luncheon that you had to pay for to get in. Just my opinion. My thoughts about the current sheriff have changed over the last couple years. Howell has my vote and my families for sure.

    • There are so many things wrong with the judicial system in Erath County. Although I no longer live there, my vote would be with anyone who admits fault and is not seeking the position to be part of the problem, but rather the solution. This person would not be popular by any means as it appears the corruption and misuse of power runs deep. My oldest son is currently in prison for a crime he did not commit, but was forced to take a deal as his court appointed attorney refused to do his due diligence and follow up on the evidence that was placed in his hands. This was made obvious to me when at the hearing for the plea deal, the court appointed attorney told me and my friend that my son CHOSE to accept the deal even though the defense was very weak and there are plenty of holes in the accusers story. My son was NEVER given any counsel other than “ take it before a jury and you’ll get life in the pen or accept a plea and I’ll get the best deal I can for you.” He was in jail for 16 months awaiting an opportunity to go to court. This was also due to his being seen as guilty from the beginning by the detective, officers, jailers.. all he was subjected to.. including his time now in prison. The system in Erath County is broken and needs someone to begin the process of fixing it. It sounds to me like Howell may be the man for the job.

  4. Kent Howell did what any father would do with the same resources. This minute interaction did not warrant the extreme reaction of termination. It happened long after the incident. He was fired because the current sheriff was afraid he would run against him. Now he is. Kent’s got my vote and support. When he’s the sheriff, he’ll clean up the sheriff’s department of the corruption, indifference, and incompetence its current exhibits.

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