Hilliard police officer Joshua Howard has been named the Hilliard American Legion Law Officer of the Year for his efforts on- and off-duty helping a local homeless family in need.
He was recently recognized by Post 614’s leaders, who learned of Howard’s actions via a resident’s social media post.
In December 2020, Officer Howard was working third-shift patrol when he stopped by an area gas station for a business visit. He noticed a vehicle in the lot with a mother and two school-aged children inside.
After speaking with the family, Officer Howard learned that they were homeless and had been living in their car. The mother lost her job in the pandemic, and the children (who were required to attend school virtually) required constant attention, keeping her from being able to find new employment. As a result, they lost their home.
Officer Howard organized an effort to support this family. He and some fellow officers pooled money to purchase a hotel room for the family. A local resident who witnessed this account shared about it on social media, which led to other community members coming together to ensure the family could enjoy the upcoming Christmas holiday.
Over the next couple months Officer Howard continued to contribute to the family. He and his wife personally ensured they had a hotel room and many meals. Citizens dropped off various retail gift cards to buy meals and virtual school supplies, and area restaurants donated food.
Additionally, the Hilliard Davidson High School cafeteria team contributed a total of 72 hot meals for the family. Officer Howard and his wife bought gifts for the children so they would have something to open on Christmas morning.
Moving into 2021, Officer Howard has continued to help create a sustainable future for the family by connecting them with resources for employment, housing, schooling, and mental wellness.
Officer Howard joined HPD in December 2017. Previously, he had enrolled in the Division’s Citizen’s Police Academy with the desire to become a chaplain for HPD. Instead, he felt the calling to become a police officer and was selected to begin the process to serve with Hilliard police.
“This is a great example of the efforts that police officers pour into their communities to help those in need,” said former Chief of Police Robert Fisher, who nominated Howard for the award prior to his retirement. “Officer Howard truly epitomizes a selfless servant and demonstrates a true heart for others.”
The HPD team is committed to creating and fostering a tremendous relationship with the community, added Chief of Police Eric Grile.
“It is this heart for service and a demonstrated compassion for our community that has allowed the members of HPD to create long-lasting bonds with our community,” he said. “Being able to make a difference in the lives of those we serve makes our community stronger and allows us to have a strong partnership for safety.”