Howell chosen as new undersheriff in Douglas County
MINDEN – Douglas County’s new undersheriff is an 18-year veteran of the department who has worked every line position the sheriff’s office has to offer.
Lt. Paul Howell, 45, was selected Monday to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Undersheriff Bob Rudnick whose last day is Aug. 2.
“I am honored and excited,” Howell said. “There were four, excellent career-minded men like myself as candidates. It was very humbling to be picked.”
Sheriff Ron Pierini said he selected Howell after difficult deliberations following interviews with the four division commanders.
“I looked at the efficiency of Paul Howell, what he has done in our jail division. It’s just an absolute, excellent job. He is very proactive and well-educated. He is truly a professional manager. He makes very sound and good decisions and has a whole lot of experience,” Pierini said.
Howell said some of the challenges facing the new undersheriff include expansion of the 22-year-old Douglas County Jail and passage of a sales tax increase to fund increased law enforcement.
Pierini said Howell has experience in professional standards, contract negotiations and other personnel issues, internal affairs, and technology upgrades.
“He has developed and worked with the vendors in bringing in new records management for the sheriff’s office and criminal justice system. It’s a huge project,” Pierini said.
Howell has been jail division commander for six years.
“He is very involved with the proposed jail expansion,” Pierini said. “He takes a lot of information and digests it.
“He turned that jail around to be the best in the state,” Pierini said. “We went through national accreditation a month ago, as we do every other year, and they gave that facility an A-plus. That’s not an easy thing to do.”
The undersheriff oversees the division commanders including the Lake substation, patrol, investigations and the jail.
“It’s a very, very difficult job,” Pierini said. “It’s one that’s very time consuming with a lot of responsibility. He has to look at personnel recruitment, oversee background checking, and licensing.
“He oversees the budget and looks at the future needs of this department, where it needs to go,” Pierini said.
“He fills my position in my absence. He has to weigh out all the concerns of the divisions and the best interests of the county. I trust him and know he will do an excellent job,” Pierini said.
The sheriff said he expects to make a decision within two weeks on who takes over the jail.
“We’ll test for lieutenant and see if we’ll be changing commanders to different posts or put the new lieutenant in that position,” Pierini said.
Howell said he was gratified by the support he received from lieutenants Keith Logan, Steve Orr and Mike Biaggini.
“We’re friends,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. We’ve all worked with each other and for each other. It’s been very positive.”
Howell also said he received tremendous support from his wife Lois.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today except for Lois,” he said. “She’s caring and supportive. She’s been my career counselor and my adviser. She’s very excited for me.”
As an administrator, Howell said he sometimes misses the “action aspect” of law enforcement.
“I’ve worked every line position this department has. I’ve been a jail deputy, worked patrol, investigations, undercover narcotics. At times you long for the hands-on thing in law enforcement. Sitting behind a desk you miss the excitement and the camaraderie of working with a great group of people,” he said.
But that experience gives him knowledge of the support deputies need to do their jobs.
“I will be in a position to help and watch the department grow,” he said.
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