Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Missing in Harris County Day

In 2020, 10,524 new missing person cases were filed in Harris County. 7,355 of those cases were missing children. Missing person cases can include runaway children, family abductions, victims of kidnapping or other violent crimes, and persons with mental disabilities who have wandered.

On Saturday, August 7, we join the Texas Center for the Missing and other agencies with a mission to find missing persons for Missing in Harris County Day. This annual event brings together law enforcement agencies, social service organizations, and missing person networks to help our community navigate the missing person system through connections, resources, and support.

Missing in Harris County Day
Saturday, August 7
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Children’s Assessment Center
2500 Bolsover St. Houston, Texas 77005

You can complete the 3-step process for filing a missing persons report, and learn about the next steps to take:

  1. Report a Missing Person
  2. Missing Persons Database Entry
  3. Voluntary Identification Swab Submissions

A Joint Effort To Bring Our Loved Ones Home

  • The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Houston Police Department will take reports for missing persons and updates from the families of the missing.
  • A representative will enter missing person information into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) information clearinghouse and resource center.
  • Forensic professionals will collect voluntary familial DNA identification samples onsite to submit into a missing person database.
  • Bilingual staff will be in attendance to help Spanish speakers access resources and complete a missing person report.
  • Family members with a missing loved one can participate in a private roundtable discussion and support group.
  • There will be panel discussions addressing the issue of missing persons.

What To Bring

Loved ones should plan to bring information to the event for data entry or information updates in the national missing persons database.

  • Photos of the missing person with any identifying features, such as tattoos or birthmarks, or personal items, such as favorite earrings
  • X-rays, dental or medical records
  • Police reports or other identifying documents that can be filed
  • At least one biological relative from the mother’s side of the missing person to submit DNA identification samples via cheek swab
  • Photos, posters, or literature to display on the Wall of the Missing to commemorate missing loved ones and for all event attendees to view information on the missing persons

Collaborative Approach

The Texas Center for the Missing is a valuable partner that plays a significant role in impacting the issue of missing persons through awareness, prevention education, training, and emergency programs. Our partners at TCM understand the need for shared resources and strategic collaborations.

“It’s a privilege to put this badge on every day and do what I do,” said Investigator O’Leary, who focuses on cold cases in our Missing Persons Unit.

“For me, staying in contact with the families of the missing, no matter how much time passes, lets them know someone still cares about finding their loved one.”

Our Missing Persons Unit takes a coordinated approach to search for and locate people who have disappeared.

Our investigators gather critical information to locate the missing person, conduct thorough interviews, identify the circumstances of the disappearance, and initiate the collection of DNA samples from the missing person’s family members.

They work with law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels, such as Texas DPS and the FBI, and advocacy organizations.

Our hearts are with the families of every missing person. May you find hope and strength as you continue your search for answers. We are with you. For more information on Missing in Harris County Day, visit the TCM website or email support@tcftm.org.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Building a Strong Culture

At the Sheriff’s Office, we know it’s not enough to have strong policies in place. Building an agencywide culture that supports proven peer intervention strategies is key to preventing harm, promoting deputy wellness, and maintaining the public’s trust.

Our deputies and detention officers swore an oath to protect our communities and those in our custody – they show courage every shift and willingly put themselves in danger to keep others safe. Still, confronting their teammates and supervisors about something they did wrong can be difficult. Policing has a hierarchical structure with a high value on being loyal to fellow brothers and sisters in blue.

In late June, we implemented a training program called Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, or ABLE, that equips our frontline personnel with practical skills and tactics to prevent misconduct, reduce mistakes, and enhance deputy health and wellness. It was designed by policing researchers at Georgetown University Law School.

This meaningful training shows our deputies and those on the frontlines inside our jail how to intervene consistently, safely, and effectively. Our teammates also learn to overcome inhibitors, such as apprehension to address a mistake made by a supervisor, that may keep them from becoming active bystanders.

The intervention can span from seeking help for a fellow deputy who seems angry or depressed to stopping a deputy in the field from using excessive force.

Deputy Wells is our dedicated program coordinator and lead ABLE instructor. He was chosen to conduct the training because of his experience at our academy and in the field.

He has worked inside the county jail as a detention officer, patrolled the streets as a deputy, served as a member of our elite SWAT team, and worked as a Field Training Officer. He’s also certified to teach Crisis Intervention Training to help guide interactions between our first responders and those in a mental health crisis.

“There are so many different forms of intervention,” said Deputy Wells. “We have a strong foundation of being there for one another already. It’s evident through our Wellness Unit, Office of Military Relations, Behavioral Health Division, and other valuable agency resources.”

“It’s about taking this mindset and thinking about small, everyday acts that could have a big impact. It’s correcting a fellow deputy when you notice he wrote down the wrong block number on a report. It’s telling an agency veteran he didn’t properly search a suspect. It’s taking over when someone is starting to lose their cool. It comes down to what’s morally right.”

ABLE in Action

Deputy Wells starts the class by asking students to define peer intervention and active bystandership. He then calls on them to share times when they did or didn’t intervene, asking what impact their action had on the situation.

Participants learn how to:

  • Notice the need for an intervention.
  • Decide when and how to intervene.
  • Intervene effectively using multiple tactics.

The day-long training includes group discussions, scenarios, case studies, and role-playing.

Deputy Wells presents real situations from other police departments, including a scenario where a homicide detective coping with lack of sleep and stress from working long hours made an inappropriate joke at an active scene. He talks about the concepts of responsibility, authority figures, and the power of the bystander as he continuously references these scenarios throughout the training.

As an agency, we’ve made significant strides to advance our mission and fulfill our core values through dedicated training, collaborative partnerships, and holistic programs. These critical and necessary steps at all levels within the agency – with strong support from the highest levels of our command staff – enhance the importance of mental health among our ranks and improve our response to our community’s public safety needs. To learn more about ABLE and our commitment to the 10 ABLE standards, click here.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Celebrating Our Parks

In honor of Park and Recreation Month, we celebrate the beauty and value of our local parks and green spaces. They enhance our quality of life and contribute to the well-being of our communities. Our Parks Unit patrols nearly 100 parks across our county. These deputies ensure the parks are safe and welcoming for visitors.

For many, parks were essential mental and physical outlets throughout the pandemic. Our parks are often our first experiences in nature, and our introduction to walking, running, bicycling, and being active outdoors. They are at the center of many memories and a place to come together with friends and family.
Parks also connect us to our neighbors and those who patrol and protect our neighborhoods. We invite you to join our deputies for a community bicycle ride at Alexander Deussen Park in northeast Harris County on Saturday, July 24.

Community Bike Ride

Saturday, July 24
Alexander Deussen Park
12303 Sonnier Street, Houston, Texas 77044
Registration: 7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Ride Start: 8:30 a.m.

Our goal is for you to have fun while getting to know our deputies and learning about bike safety. This family-friendly event gives us another avenue to interact with our community beyond calls for service and traffic stops. We want to bring people together and push our neighborhoods forward through positive relationships and open communication.

Join Us

The bike ride will start at 8:30 a.m. near the pavilion and water gazebo at the park. Be sure to arrive early to sign in. There will be two bike routes – a nearly 5-mile route within the park and a 7-mile route that extends to neighboring Eisenhower Park. For those that don’t have a bike, there are 40 bikes available for rent at a B-station at Alexander Deussen Park. Guest riders can pay with a credit card at the kiosk on-site or on the mobile app. Learn more here.

The ride will end back at the pavilion where our Park Unit deputies will announce giveaways, talk to you about what’s on your mind, and offer basic bike inspections that include tire pressure checks, tightening loose bolts, and inspecting brakes, pedals, chains and more. You can also meet with team members from our Community Problem-Oriented Policing Unit, Patrol District 2, Motor Assistance Program, Community Engagement Division, and various other units.

We welcome cyclists of all ages, skill levels, and riding all types of bicycles to join us. If you have any questions about the community bike ride, please reach out to our Parks Unit at 346-286-1943.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Watch Your Car Month

The summer months are historically one of the riskiest times of the year for vehicle burglary and theft in Texas.

This time brings busy schedules, vacations, and more time on the road that can lead some drivers to let their guard down when it comes to locking doors and hiding personal items.

We teamed up with Crime Stoppers of Houston and Clear Channel Outdoor to promote a simple vehicle crime prevention philosophy: “If you like it, LOCK IT!”

Vehicle Theft Prevention Tips

The awareness campaign includes 11 digital billboards across the region that encourage residents to practice three basic safety tips:

  • Hide it
  • Lock it
  • Take it
Other Tips
  • Always lock your vehicle and take your keys.
  • Never leave your car unattended while it is running.
  • Park in a well-lit area.
  • Take valuables with you when you are not in your vehicle or keep them out of sight.
  • Give parking attendants the ignition key only.
  • Install an anti-theft device.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, thieves stole 84,170 vehicles in Texas during 2020. In some jurisdictions, more than half of the vehicles stolen had unlocked doors and keys left inside. Since January, 2,529 stolen vehicles were reported to our agency.

For more information on how to protect yourself and your vehicle, download our vehicle report card.

Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Tips

Catalytic converter thefts have soared nationally as the prices of the metals inside the part have risen. The anti-pollution device is attached to the belly of the vehicle.

In March, we busted a catalytic converter theft ring, seizing 32 stolen parts, more than $14,500, and arresting four people.

In our region and the rest of country, prices for rhodium, palladium, and platinum are climbing, and thieves see an easy way to make cash. Reported thefts of catalytic converters for our agency more than tripled last year, from 180 in 2019 to 744 in 2020. This year alone there have been nearly 1,300 reported catalytic converter thefts.

In what takes just minutes, thieves slide under your vehicle and saw off the device. To avoid detection, many change their vehicle’s license plate. They may lift the car using a car jack before cutting the part and driving off in their own vehicle. Most thieves use basic tools, such as a battery-powered saw.

Sgt. Persons, who oversees our Metal Theft Unit, says these thefts are becoming a crime of opportunity, happening at any time of the day at shopping center parking lots, near driveways in residential areas, or places where cars are parked in a row.

The thefts are disruptive. Motorists are met with a roaring noise when they turn on the ignition. The loud noise and the potential damage to the engine are why you can’t drive without the part.

For the theft victim, it’s costly due to time off work, finding and paying for alternate transportation, and then paying to get your vehicle fixed. Repair shops can charge up to $2,500 to replace the converters, and what you pay out of pocket depends on your insurance.

Drivers can take preventative steps to protect their car’s catalytic converter:

  • Park your car in a garage or in a well-lit area.
  • Park close to fences, walls, or curbs and alongside cars to make the catalytic converter less accessible.
  • Mark the converter by stamping or engraving your VIN or license plate number.
  • Install a catalytic theft prevention device, such as a lock or cover.
  • Report potential thefts immediately and obtain as much information about the suspects as possible.

As we enjoy the summer months, let’s take preventative measures to remain safe and safeguard our property.

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