While most police officers retire their badges along with their careers, Kevin Howell simple traded his in for a UT Security badge.
To most, Howell would seem like just another security guard in the ranks. But the 15-year Tampa Police Department veteran has a unique story to tell.
Just 12 years ago, Howell was nearly killed in the line of duty when he suffered a near-fatal shooting that forced him into an early medical retirement.
Howell almost bled to death from gunshot wounds to the leg and thigh from by a man who he would face in court a year later, a Nov. 1997 St. Petersburg Times article reported. Howell spent six months in the hospital and two years in physical rehabilitation, battling through 13 surgeries as three 8-inch rods were permanently implanted in his right hip, and a metal plate with screws was placed on his left ankle. Howell was told that he would never walk again, but he’s up and walking around at his new job, ready to serve.
“I’ve been doing great,” Howell said. “I’ve had a spell of bad luck, but I’m doing great.”
A spot of bad luck is an understatement. After Howell returned to patrol duty in 1997, he broke his injured leg after a 245-pound woman he was arresting fell on him.
After battling more surgeries, Howell decided to retire. He admitted that it was a tough decision to leave TPD.
“I knew there [were] risks, I fought hard and sometimes the things that happen to us catch up with us,” he said. As his on-duty injuries finally caught up to him, Howell said his appointment as UT’s second in command of security couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Tampa born and raised former police sergeant said he knows the ins and outs of both UT and Tampa as a whole, and is ready to take on the job.
“It’s a good, very refreshing change of pace,” he said. “This has caused me to slow down and, in a way, stop looking over my shoulder.”
His bravery was even celebrated by former President Bill Clinton in a 1995 speech in Tampa.
Director of Safety and Security Charles Mascenik said this new addition would allow the university to more effectively tackle issues that might arise. Mascenik also smashed claims that Howell was brought in as help because Mascenik was being overworked.