Suffolk Sheriff’s Office retires two

Published 9:48 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

Two outstanding members of the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office will soon end their decades-long careers of professionalism and hard work.

Maj. James Darden, 53, will officially retire on Dec. 1, and Capt. Calvin Bowe, 55, will officially retire on Jan. 1. Darden has been with the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office for 30 years, while Bowe has 23 years on the job.

The two men have worked together for three decades, going back to Bowe’s years at the old city jail, and they’ve worked well together through that long span of time — very well, actually.

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“Him and I have worked together for 30 years, and I’ve never had a cross word with him,” Darden said about Bowe and himself.

“We get along great,” Bowe added.

They’ve also gotten along with three different Suffolk sheriffs. Darden was first hired by the late J. Irving Baines, who served as sheriff from 1970 to 1993. Baines was followed by former Suffolk Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs Sr.

“Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs was a mentor to me, and he gave me a lot of opportunities to grow as a leader,” Darden said. “He helped me grow from a young man to a mature leader.”

Darden received a remarkable opportunity to develop his leadership skills in 2003, when he graduated from the 215th session of the FBI National Academy at Quantico. He was the first representative from the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office to attend the national academy, according to Suffolk Sheriff E.C. Harris.

It was because of that leadership that Darden was promoted to chief deputy of the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office in 2017.

He’s worked under Sheriff Harris to conduct office plans and policies, and has overseen hundreds of training hours and numerous technological improvements, from the records management system in the downtown office to more efficient devices and protections in vehicles.

“(Darden) is a consummate professional,” Harris said. “I don’t have any worries when I’m out of the office. He runs the day to day operations of the Sheriff’s Office, and I don’t think twice about it.”

Bowe started his professional law enforcement career in North Carolina before he moved to Virginia in 1989. He worked at the old Suffolk city jail for three years until it was shut down, then for seven years at Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

He was brought back into the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office by Isaacs and over time became experienced with the inner workings of the courthouse. It was because of his expertise in this arena that Harris promoted him to director of building security in 2017.

Both Darden and Bowe have worked at the Mills E. Godwin Courts Complex since it opened in downtown Suffolk 21 years ago, and as director of security, Bowe knows his building inside and out.

“Calvin also makes sure the courts are run safely and securely, (and) makes sure that all the inmates are handled in a safe and secure way,” Harris said. “He really runs the courthouse.”

“That was the highlight of my law enforcement career,” Bowe said about his role as director of building security.

Harris described Bowe as “one of the most even-keeled people” that he knows.

“He doesn’t let anything fluster him. He’s a man of faith, with great character and work ethic,” Harris said about Bowe. “He’s got the best work ethic in our office. He leads by example, and he sets the tone.”

Both Darden and Bowe have grown in tandem with law enforcement in the city — with changes in security measures, like metal detectors and X-ray machines at the courthouse, Darden said, to the Suffolk Sheriff Office’s expansive community engagement efforts.

“We think of everybody. From the youngest to the oldest, this office touches every segment of our community,” Darden said.

Bowe has helped seen to this personally with adult and juvenile offenders at the courthouse. Whatever the courts decide, Bowe has told them they can still make things right when they are released.

“They can still be a productive citizen in society,” he said.

The two men look forward to their respective retirements. Darden said he plans to keep working on his family farm in Suffolk and enjoy his various hobbies, like collecting antique gas pumps. Bowe plans to spend more time with his family and his out-of-state friends, and to help with improvements at his mother’s house.

It’s also a big transition for the Sheriff’s Office itself, as well. Darden and Bowe’s combined “institutional experience,” as Harris described it, contains decades of knowledge on how the place runs, and how to fix any problems that may arise.

From the lights to cameras and card readers, whenever something wasn’t working properly, these two men had enough experience for a quick, effective remedy.

“We’re losing good decision-makers,” Harris said about Darden and Bowe. “They’re just excellent decision-makers and excellent human beings. You just can’t find those folks every day.”

Fortunately, they’ve been mentoring the younger members of the Sheriff’s Office to assume their collective responsibilities.

“They’ve been working for years to groom and mentor younger staff to fill these roles, and we’re confident that we’re going to be OK,” Harris said.