Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Take the Red Ribbon Pledge to Live Drug Free

Every year, neighbors across the U.S. come together to celebrate Red Ribbon Week in honor of fallen DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena’s memory and his battle against drugs. The Red Ribbon Campaign pledge was inspired by the idea that it takes a community to teach prevention and embraces Agent Camarena’s belief that one person can make a difference.

It’s a week-long reminder for us to unite and take a visible stand against the dangers of drugs through educating our youth and encouraging them to stay healthy and avoid the risks of substance abuse.

We hope the children in your life had an opportunity to participate in creative and informative prevention activities with you and their classmates – from fun-filled themed days and decorated classrooms to coloring pages and drawing contests.

We also hope this awareness week sparked the start of open, honest conversations with your teens to help them develop into healthy adults. Did you know that teens who talk to their parents regularly about drugs are about 40% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t?

As a caregiver, you play a big role in your child’s life. Remember, it’s not about having one conversation, but keeping lines of communication open and tackling the subject as it comes up. Tap into their curiosity to lay the foundation for a productive discussion. For example, as you take your daily medications, talk to them about how taking the wrong medicine or taking medicine that isn’t especially for you could be dangerous. If you’re watching a movie with drug use, consider asking them how they feel about it.

Drug Prevention Resources and Activities

Red Ribbon Week is an opportunity – and challenge – for us to take a leadership role in drug prevention. Thanks for your partnership and pledge to live healthy, happy, and drug-free lives. With your support and commitment, we’ll continue to work together for stronger, healthier communities.

Have a fun and safe Halloween weekend with your loved ones. Like nearly everything else, Halloween this year will be different, but you can still make it special with a little planning and creativity. Before the Spooktacular festivities begin, follow COVID-19 precautions from Harris County Public Health and critical safety tips from our Community Engagement Division.

God bless you, and may God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Celebrate Safe Communities

Crime Prevention Month recognizes the role each of us plays in helping prevent crime and celebrates our collective efforts as a community to create and maintain safer neighborhoods.

The National Crime Prevention Council and local law enforcement agencies across our nation join forces every year to spread the word about personal safety and crime prevention resources. At the heart of this public safety campaign is the collaborative partnership among neighbors, businesses, schools, and local law enforcement agencies.

One of the most important aspects of crime prevention is increasing our awareness of our surroundings. When it comes to knowing our own neighborhood the best, we are the experts.

Crime Prevention Tips and Resources

Crime prevention starts with you. Take precautions to reduce your vulnerability to certain crimes, including theft, fraud, and property crime.

  • Stay active in your community. Join your homeowner association or Neighborhood Watch Program.
  • Be aware of the crimes being reported in your area.
  • Sign up for Nextdoor, a social platform that lets you make online connections with your neighbors to exchange helpful information about your community.
  • Our agency’s presence on Nextdoor is another opportunity for you to become more aware of how we are supporting and serving you on a daily basis. You will receive breaking news updates, missing persons and wanted suspects alerts, crime prevention resources, and invitations to virtual community forums.

Reduce Crimes of Opportunity:

  • Keep your doors locked. Protect windows and sliding glass doors with good locks or other security measures.
  • Keep your garage door closed and consider installing motion lights.
  • Don’t let strangers in your home without checking their ID. Call their company if you’re not sure.
  • Don’t hide extra house keys under a doormat or other obvious spots.
  • The Sheriff’s Office offers an added sense of security when you go out of town through its Vacation Watch Program. Learn more about the service and sign up here.
  • Work out a buddy system with a neighbor to check on each other regularly.
  • Have your car or house key in hand as you approach your home or vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit, busy areas and carry a cell phone with you, if possible.
  • Hide valuables in your car or remove them completely from your car.

For more information and resources related to preventing crime of all types, visit the National Crime Prevention Council’s website or reach out to our Crime Prevention Unit at crime.prevention@sheriff.hctx.net.

Crime Reduction Units

The Sheriff’s Office has launched proactive enforcement efforts and measures aimed at the reduction of crime in our communities.

Each of our five patrol districts across our county now has its own Crime Reduction Unit with a dedicated sergeant and eight deputies, including two gang unit investigators. The mission of the Crime Reduction Unit is to ensure the safety of residents through proactive operations and investigations that target high crime areas.

These deputies are actively present and visible in their neighborhoods, fostering personal connections with residents and identifying the type of criminal activity happening in that area through resident leads, crime reports and data, and patrol efforts. They are a part of the community they serve, understanding what’s relevant or unique to their district and supporting the overall mission of our agency.

Our Crime Reduction Units also participate in multi-agency initiatives to combat several public safety issues, such as street racing and street takeovers and impaired driving.

Crime prevention requires the active participation of all members of our community. See something, say something. We need everyone to become involved and be energized in their efforts to protect themselves, their family, and their property. Let’s remember the power of building a strong support system through community.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Avoid Distractions and Stay Safe on the Road

October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This month is about raising awareness and finding solutions to prevent injuries and fatalities on our roadways. It’s a time to have meaningful conversations about safe driving behaviors and the dangers of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is anything that keeps your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and your mind off the important task of driving. It takes many forms and isn’t just about texting or talking. A lot of things can keep you from driving safely besides your phone – eating, having a conversation with a passenger, attending to children, putting on makeup, or changing radio stations.

Distracted driving can have dire consequences. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT):

  • One in five crashes on our state’s roads is caused by a distracted driver.
  • In 2019, there were 100,000 crashes and more than 370 fatalities across the state caused by distracted driving.
  • In 2019, there were 22 distracted driving fatalities in Harris County.

Crash statistics and death rates are not just numbers. Deputy Lillibridge, with our Vehicular Crimes Division, reminds us there’s a person and a grieving family behind each statistic. Lives can be lost forever because one text couldn’t wait.

TxDOT and our Vehicular Crimes Division encourage drivers to:

  • Always give driving your full attention. It’s against the law in Texas to read, write or send a text while driving.
  • Make any adjustments to your GPS, seats, mirrors, radio, and air condition before getting on the road.
  • Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.

For more safe driving tips, click here.

National Teen Driver Safety Week

Did you know the leading cause of death for teenagers in our country is car crashes? Learning to drive can be an overwhelming time for teenagers and their caregivers. Parents who are preparing to hand car keys to their teen are encouraged to take steps to help their loved one become a safe and capable driver before they get behind the wheel.

Our partners at AAA Texas are hosting several free virtual teen driver workshops through the remainder of the year to help teens and their parents navigate this important milestone. The interactive workshop will help participants understand teen driving habits, the common risks associated with teen drivers, any driver restrictions or requirements, and what to look for in a driving school.

Education and awareness are key to preventing these tragedies. Let’s all do our part and commit to driving safely to end the streak of daily deaths on our roadways.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – We Stand With Domestic Violence Victims and Survivors

Earlier this week, the Sheriff’s Office joined the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) and other community partners to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to advocate for every person’s right to feel safe in their relationships, homes, and communities.

According to HAWC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. It’s often a hidden threat in our community, lurking behind closed doors.

At a time when public health officials are urging us to stay at home as much as possible, domestic violence victims are finding their home to be a trap. We are seeing that isolation – while helping with the spread of coronavirus – is exacerbating any abuse that might have been taking place previously.

In response to the pandemic’s devastating consequences for people living with abusive partners and family members, HAWC and its partners launched the Safe at Home campaign. At the heart of the campaign is the notion that everyone deserves to live a life free from violence.

Our deputies are entrusted by our community to protect them. At the Sheriff’s Office, we take very seriously our duty to help those who are being hurt by someone who is supposed to love them. One of our most important responsibilities is investigating cases of abuse, which is why we have a dedicated Domestic Violence Unit and a Crime Victim Assistance Unit.

Earlier this year, our agency launched a new unit to tackle a key component of domestic violence – stalking. The goal of our Behavioral Threat Management Unit is to prevent volatile situations from escalating into harm or violence. Our agency strives to be proactive and work toward preventing these types of tragedies from occurring in our county.

And while the work of these units is always important, it is especially critical during a crisis. Our deputies know first-hand that crises foster unprecedented stress and uncertainty.

Our domestic violence related calls for service have gradually increased countywide since the end of February and are up compared to last year. There have been 87 homicides since January – 23 of those homicides were family violence related and 11 of the 23 homicides were committed by an intimate partner.

During this challenging time, many victims may feel compelled to cling to their homes and family, but no one should feel obligated to remain in an abusive relationship of any form. Domestic violence victims deserve our utmost compassion and support.

This type of violence was a public crisis long before COVID-19 and is believed to be an underreported crime. Let’s raise our collective voices against this serious, heartbreaking issue. As a community, we can keep an eye out for potential victims and pay attention to whether a situation seems dangerous for a neighbor, friend, or family member. When you suspect something is happening, trust your instincts and say something. Now more than ever, it’s really important to build community around a survivor.

We cannot do this alone. As an agency, we participate in a coordinated response against domestic violence that includes training for our deputies, encouraging residents to report incidents, and working closely with domestic violence partner agencies that provide essential crisis tools and resources to empower survivors. Our partners connect survivors to shelter assistance, legal consultations, employment opportunities, and more.

Below are some resources for residents who are either in a domestic violence situation or want to report a domestic violence situation:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call or text 911.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233 or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
  • Houston Area’s Women Center’s 24/7 Hotlines:
  • Harris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Victims Unit: 713-274-9369

I encourage victims to come to us for assistance or to reach out to one of the many organizations in our region whose mission is to end domestic and sexual violence for all.

We stand together with domestic violence victims and survivors. We are a community. And we are here to support you.

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