Sergeant Who Was First Female SWAT Officer in Eureka to Retire

BeFunky CollagePress release from the Eureka Police Department:

April 1, 2016, will mark a bittersweet moment for the Eureka Police Department and many others in our community. Sergeant Katherine Howden officially retires this Friday after over 28 years of dedicated service.

Kay began her career in 1986 at age 21 when she joined the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office as a correctional officer in the county jail. After a year working in the jail, she left to attend the 54th Basic Police Academy at College of the Redwoods. Upon graduation, Kay was hired as a police officer in Woodland, California where she served from December 1988 through 1990 before joining the Eureka Police Department.

During her over 25 years with EPD, Kay worked many varied assignments including:


  • Patrol officer
  • Housing Authority officer (where she worked ½ time patrolling and ½ time teaching D.A.R.E. at Lincoln and Alice Birney Elementary Schools)
  • Field Training Officer
  • SWAT (Kay has the distinction of being the 1st female officer to serve as a member of a SWAT team in Humboldt County. She also earned the “Top Shooter” award at her Basic SWAT School).
  • K-9 handler and K-9 Program supervisor
  • Patrol Sergeant
  • Criminal Investigation Services division supervisor Detective-Sergeant

Kay was promoted to sergeant in 2007 and will finish out her career as the supervising Detective-Sergeant of EPD’s Criminal Investigation Services division. Kay is also a graduate of the 238th Session of the FBI National Academy.

Chief Andrew Mills had this to say about Sergeant Howden: “Kay is a truly wonderful person who was a pioneer in women in law enforcement. Her exceptional skills as a leader and K-9 handler will be sorely missed.”

Captain Steve Watson had this to add: “Kay is respected and admired by so many people in our community – cops, crooks and law-abiding citizens alike. She is recognized everywhere she goes and people always seem to feel comfortable approaching her. Kay has been a trusted friend, colleague, mentor, and leader. She is someone I have always been able to count on, both personally and professionally, to do the right thing, stand up for what she believes in, and care about others. We will feel the echoes of her absence in our halls for a long time to come. Kay has served with honor, excellence, and genuine compassion for all those around her. While I am happy she will now be enjoying her well-deserved retirement, I am also sad to see her go.”

When asked to reflect back on her many years of service as a police officer, Kay said the most rewarding part has been her positive interactions with so many people from all walks of life. Kay explained that she has always tried to be very approachable and she feels she has received much more from others than she has given.

As for her post-retirement plans, Kay loves dogs and would like to continue her involvement in training police K-9s and studying animal behavior.



  • sharpen your pencil

    I remember meeting Kay at the water storage station while she was working with a dog. I was in elementary school at the time, however remember thinking that she was very kind and she let me come into the yard to watch her k9 in action. Now as an adult all I can think of is, we sure could use a lot more officers like her! Sad to see such a constructive member of the police force retiring, also glad to see she had such a long and productive career!

  • When 50% of police are women the USA will be a vastly improved place. Of course that will take about a century. (Time we really don’t have)
    thank you for your service

    • sharpen your pencil

      If you think that is what is going to be the sole reason for vast improvement, you are strictly trying to make this a gender battle. You want accountability and an honorable police force. Mandatory body cameras and we can start cleaning up the LEO’S that need cleaning up, the ones that don’t will welcome this!

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