By Robert Lucke
Havre policeman Earl Campbell does not wear a white hat, but for the dedication he puts into the job, he might just as well.
A native of Absarokee, Campbell started working in Hill County for the Sheriffs Office in 1994 and later transferred to the Havre Police Department.
Prior to that time, he worked in Billings and went through the Law Enforcement Academy in Bozeman.
The Montana native knew early on that he was suited for law enforcement work.
I knew that I wanted to be somewhere in Montana as a peace officer, Campbell said. I was working as an emergency medical technician in Billings, but it looked like law enforcement as a career was one thing I was more interested in.
Many folks who have run into Campbell when he is wearing his law enforcement hat speak of a problem-solving officer of the law.
I just try to treat people like I want to be treated. That is the main thing that I do, Campbell confided. And I enjoy being involved with the public. I have always been a people person. I enjoy that.
Campbell works a rotating shift that puts a lot of his working hours in the afternoon and night shifts. How busy he is on shift varies considerably.
Last week, there was not much going on, Campbell said, grinning. But at night, it seems like you are dealing with a whole different people. It is much different than you deal with during the day shift. Usually, you get to know a lot of people that you keep having contact with over and over.
Even for Campbell, who tries to put a positive spin on most everything he does, the job can get to him once in a while.
There are times when the job gets aggravating, but it is not something I dwell on, Campbell said. Lately, I have been busy doing other things.
Campbell helps out at Dennys Upholstery in North Havre. He says that when he is sewing, he has little time to think about anything else.
And it helps that crime is not as big as it could be in Havre right now.
Actually, it (crime) seems like it is getting slower on night shifts, Campbell said. The last few months, it has not been quite as busy as it had been.
Even with Campbells work philosophy, sometimes it is not easy being a patrolman and being on guard no matter what the situation is.
As much as I can, I want to help people through their difficulties, but there are some times when you really wonder and wish you were doing something else, Campbell said.
And at times, it is difficult. Your awareness is higher and there are little pickup things that we look for. It is hard to explain those. It is something that you learn as you go, and I try to be very observant and, even at that, there are sometimes that I dont see things that I should have seen.
At times, the most simple of jobs can be the most complex and best when solved, too.
One of the most common problems is that of barking dogs. People call about that when they cant sleep or when they are mad at their neighbors, Campbell said. Worse are disturbance or fight calls. I try to help out every time, but it does not always work out. Sometimes you do what you have to because of the job, but you dont always feel good about it.
Among the most frustrating aspects of Campbells job are the times that disturbances involve tiny children. In those cases, Campbell works hard to take the children out of the threatening situations.
A job description for Campbell?
Well, there is more to it than arresting people and throwing them in jail. We get calls for everything. One time, an old lady called that someone had taken her gate. We found it and put it back on and that made her happy, Campbell said. That is what we do, is fix problems, and sometimes we cant always fix those problems, but what we can do is alleviate the problem for awhile, until the people can try to fix it themselves.