History of the Sheriff

The Howard County Sheriff’s Department has been in existence since 1873, when R. G. Shaver had the honor of becoming the first sheriff. A total of twenty-one men have held the office, with Richard (Dick) Wakefield having the longest term of service, at twenty-one years. Over time, the duties and responsibilities of the office have continued to evolve. The Sheriff and deputies are responsible for maintaining the laws of the State of Arkansas. The enforcement staff of the Sheriff’s Department includes the Sheriff, Chief Deputy, two Criminal Investigators and seven Patrol Deputies.

These officers are faced with a variety of duties that include traffic patrol, accident investigations, serving civil process and all different types of criminal investigations. The ever-constant battle to control illegal drugs in the county is a high priority of the Sheriff’s Department. Each summer, the officers participate in marijuana eradication programs along with other types of techniques to control the manufacturing of the controlled substance. The members of the Sheriff’s Department work closely with the local Drug Task Force in an effort to control the many other types of illegal drugs that are sold in the county.

The Howard County Sheriff’s Department along with the Nashville Police Department have utilized resources and manpower to have an eight member S.W.A.T. Team. This team of highly trained men is available to respond to any high-risk situation that could occur in the county. The services of the S.W.A.T. Team have proven to be a valuable asset to the entire county.

In addition to enforcing state laws in the six hundred square miles of Howard County, the Sheriff’s Department is also responsible for the operation of the County Jail. The jail staff consists of the Jail Administrator along with the eleven personnel trained as dispatchers-jailers that conduct around the clock checks on the inmates housed at the facility. These employees are also responsible for searching inmates for contraband and weapons. An important part of the booking of an inmate is the collection of fingerprints, photographs and vital personal information that is maintained in the permanent filing system at the jail. The information is also logged into a computer system that is networked with facilities nationwide. The current Howard County Jail has been in operation since August 1993 after county voters approved a one-quarter cent sales tax increase to fund the $1.3 million facility.

The meals that are served to the inmates at the jail are prepared in the facilities state of the art kitchen. A full-time food service employee that plans the meals to meet the specifications set by a dietician supervises the kitchen. Sometimes the population of the facility will be as high as forty or more inmates, each of them being served three meals a day. The Arkansas State Health Department conducts regular inspections of the kitchen.

Providing security for the courts is a very important function of the Sheriff’s Department. The demands for courtroom security are on the rise. Across the United States, there are numerous violent outbreaks with judges and other officers of the court being brutally and sometimes fatally attacked. The Sheriff’s Department provides as many deputies as necessary to maintain the security of the court system.

The Howard County communications center is responsible for receiving emergency calls on the four 911 lines as well as two Sheriff’s Department lines and two Nashville Police Department lines. The police departments in Mineral Springs and Dierks also rely on the Sheriff’s Department as a twenty-four hour dispatch service. The operators monitor five radios and have the capability of communicating with all the surrounding counties along with Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. The operators are also charged with the task of staying in contact with the National Weather Service and activating weather warnings when necessary. The local ambulance service, fire departments, rescue units, utility companies and many others depend on the valuable services rendered by the communications center.

The transportation of prisoners is an every day duty that is performed by members of the jail staff and the patrol deputies. The prisoners are transported for court appearances, medical appointments and to various Department of Corrections facilities across the state. The patrol deputies extradite fugitives from justice from other states back to Howard County. The deputies are also faced with the difficult task of transporting mental patients for examinations and confinement. This can sometimes be a very dangerous assignment for the officers.

The collection of Circuit Court fines, personal property and real estate taxes are collected by the Sheriff’s Tax Collectors Office. Three employees, the Chief Deputy Collector and two Deputy Collectors, staff this office. The collector’s office is responsible for the collection of approximately $7.9 million in taxes each year.

We would appreciate assistance in completing our online sheriff's gallery.
Please contact us if you have photos available of our missing sheriffs.

Sheriff Randall “Butch” Morris
Term: 1997-2014

Sheriff Richard “Dick” Wakefield
Term: 1977-1996

Sheriff Conrad Bagley
Term: 1971-1976

Sheriff Richard “Dick” Wakefield
Term: 1970

Sheriff Lewis Tollett
Term: 1967-1970

Sheriff Fomby Jackson
Term: 1963-1966

Sheriff W. K. Jennings
Term: 1955-1962

Sheriff Ambrose Chesshir
Term: 1951-1954

Sheriff Arthur E. Hicks
Term: 1947-1950

Sheriff John W. Howell
Term: 1945-1946

Sheriff Jones Floyd 
Term: 1938-1945

Sheriff C. A. Dildy
Term: 1933-1938

Sheriff Roy Millwee
Term: 1929-1932

Sheriff C. A. Dildy 
Term: 1925-1928

Sheriff Roy Morris
Term: 1921-1925

Sheriff Roy Millwee
Term: 1916-1921


Sheriff J.K. Hutchinson
Term: 1912-1916

Sheriff C. L. Haller
Term: 1908-1912

Sheriff W. P. Williams
Term: 1904-1908

Sheriff C. C. Custer
Term: 1900-1904

Sheriff C. L. Haller
Term: 1892-1900

Sheriff W. J. Talbott
Term: 1890-1892


Sheriff W. H. Briggs
Term: 1882-1890

Sheriff A. S. Hutchinson
Term: 1874-1882

Sheriff R. G. Shaver
Term: 1873-1874