POMEROY — Meigs County’s longest serving deputy has spent many hours serving the county’s residents through his role in law enforcement, as well as with the local emergency medical services and fire department.
Long-time local volunteer Howard Mullen was recently featured by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in a video on its Facebook page, as well as in an article in the “On the Job” criminal justice update newsletter put out by the office this summer. He has also received recognition for his dedication from other media outlets.
This week, he sat down with local media to talk about his 66 years as a law enforcement officer and continuing to serve as a first responder in the community.
For more than six decades, Mullen has served as a volunteer part-time at the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, as well as being a long-time volunteer with Meigs County Emergency Medical Services and the Pomeroy Volunteer Fire Department.
At age 91, Mullen still volunteers at the sheriff’s office as a special deputy, stopping in a few times a month to spend time with the deputies or ride along with them.
He can also be found in nearly every parade in the area in his 1947 Ford, which is a fully equip sheriff cruiser with radios, first aid kit, tool kit and more.
Asked about his time with the sheriff’s office and some memories that stand out, Mullen recalled a few specific incidents, as well as responding to the collapse of the Silver Bridge.
Mullen noted that many years ago he was out with several other deputies in a field and came very close to being shot. He recalled that it was almost dark and that he became separated from the others. When they heard a noise coming from his direction he heard them preparing their guns. He yelled for them not to shoot as it was just him.
On another call, he was behind the door of a cruiser pointing his gun at a suspect when another officer stepped in front of his drawn gun. No shots were fired and no one was injured, but he still remembers the incident years later, although he would not name the other officer involved.
The collapse of the Silver Bridge on Dec. 15, 1967, was one event that stands out to Mullen from his years as a first responder.
“I still remember the exact words all these years later. It’s etched in my mind,” said Mullen. He recalled the radio traffic stating, “The Silver Bridge has collapsed send all available help.”
Mullen was coming from work at the time and was on the scene in about 25 minutes. He spent five days on that response.
Among the things he recalls from the scene was helping to lift a cot over the fallen steel to assist the victims.
At the time, first responder and law enforcement agencies often had their own radio frequencies which made it difficult to communicate with one another, said Mullen. His vehicle was one of the only ones with two radio frequencies in it, something that helped a lot at the scene allowing for better communication.
In addition to his role with the sheriff’s office, Mullen can be found on many calls with the Pomeroy Fire Department, helping to direct traffic on accident scenes to protect other first responders and individuals at the scene, among other roles.
Additionally, Mullen said that he helps to bring publicity to the sheriff’s office with his antique vehicle at parades and events.
As a child, Mullen said he always liked to watch law enforcement and the calls they would go on, and said that youngsters today like to see people in uniform. Now, he is the one in uniform for children to see.
“It’s something I like to do,” said Mullen. He is “civic minded” and enjoys helping to promote the area. Mullen is a life-long resident of Pomeroy, still living in the house he grew up in.
“He is inspiring to all of us,” said Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood of Mullen. Wood said that Mullen has a lot of history which he shares with the other deputies, giving them an understanding of the past.
Mullen also spends about two-and-a-half months each year in Florida, where for 17 years he also worked for a small police department during his vacation. In a couple years he answered more than 100 calls during that time.
In addition, Mullen still works part-time in the banking industry doing internal audit work for Home National Bank in Racine.
Asked if he planned to continue, Mullen said as long as his “health holds up.”
He said that he remains “semi-active” with EMS and the local fire department, performing “light duty” due to his age.
“I hope to do it as long as health allows me,” said Mullen.
“That he still wants to give back to his community makes you want to do it,” said Wood, noting that the dedication of Mullen since 1953 helps to inspire youth and younger officers in what they do in law enforcement.
Sgt. Brandy King said Mullen has “been a great asset to the community through law enforcement and the fire department,” noting that you can always count on Mullen to help out.
“He is a very dedicated person,” said King. “You can learn from his dedication to the community and the service provided.”
The sheriff added that Mullen cares about the people of the county and will do anything to help them.
While he is considered a special deputy, Wood said Mullen stops in the office multiple times a month and will ride with the deputies from time to time, as well as completing trainings and activities. “He is the real deal,” said Wood.
Wood said that Union County has been in contact with Mullen about participating in their Bicentennial parade next year with his cruiser. Plans are currently being made for that to happen, with Mullen and his cruiser being transported to Union County to be part of the festivities.
Mullen said he wanted the public to know that there are a lot of people who put in hours on a volunteer basis in the county, and that they are not “in it for the money.”