Sheriff Karen Bowden is a native of Smithfield, Virginia and has been a resident of Hampton, Virginia for many years. She is a graduate of Smithfield High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Norfolk State University.
Over 30 years ago, Karen walked into the Hampton Sheriff's Office to begin her career in law enforcement. Even though Sheriff Bowden started as a deputy operating the front desk in the office, her work ethic was the impetus for one promotion after another. She became a Lieutenant, later a Major with the title of Jail Administrator supervising 123 employees and managing over 350 inmates. Continuing to excel at each assignment, by 1998 Sheriff Bowden was again promoted to Colonel, with the title of Undersheriff, making her second-in-command of the Hampton Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Bowden was appointed Sheriff by Hampton City Council in 2021 upon the passing of Sheriff B.J. Roberts.
Sheriff Bowden currently supervises and manages a staff of approximately 183 sworn and civilian staff members and an average daily inmate population of 265 for FY 2020. Her duties also include the development and management of an annual budget of approximately $9.3 million dollars.
Sheriff Bowden is married to her husband Larrine and they are the parents of a son, affectionately known as “TJ.” She is a member of First Gravel Hill Baptist Church.
Sheriff Bowden looks forward to writing a book on leadership, and becoming a national leadership trainer.