Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Know Your Neighbor, Build a Strong Community

This week, we take a moment to celebrate our communities, the feelings of connectivity fostered by them, and what it means to be a good neighbor.

While we can’t partake in our usual National Night Out festivities this year due to the current pandemic, we can carry on the true meaning of this annual tradition – community.

We will miss coming together with you for the block parties, cookouts, and other fun activities that this evening is known to bring to our front yards, but we recognize at the heart of National Night Out is neighbors building bonds with each other and with our deputies patrolling and protecting their community.

You and your neighbors are the collective backbone of a thriving community. Our deputies are also a part of your community. We are actively present in your neighborhoods every day, keeping your families, neighbors, and businesses safe. We patrol your streets, provide you with important public safety information, and share helpful crime prevention resources and tips. We are here for you.

But public safety is a shared responsibility. You play a critical role in keeping your neighborhood safe and we rely on you to be the extra eyes and ears on your block. You know your home the best.

Now more than ever, staying connected and building a strong support system – even from afar – is vital. Get to know your neighbors by introducing yourself, joining your homeowner association, and signing up for Nextdoor, a social app that allows you to make online connections with residents in your community to exchange helpful information relevant or unique to your neighborhood. Follow our agency on Nextdoor to become more aware of how we are supporting and serving you on a daily basis.

Thank you for being a good neighbor. I look forward to the day we can come together in person again. In the meantime, stay healthy and well. Do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following the guidelines set by the CDC and Harris County Public Health, the local public health authority.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Remembering Our Fallen Brother Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal

Our Harris County Sheriff’s Office family and community pays tribute to our fallen brother Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal on the first anniversary of his death.

This Sunday marks one year since our entire community – and the world – began mourning his loss and honoring his memory. Harris County residents from all walks of life spoke of his special connection with the people in his district, as well as his deep commitment to a life of service and his faith. This was a sign of how beloved Deputy Dhaliwal was by his fellow deputies and the community.

Deputy Dhaliwal joined our agency as a detention officer in 2009 after feeling called to build a bridge between law enforcement and the Sikh community. He later became a patrol deputy. He paved the way for other Sikhs to join the agency as the first member of their community to serve at the Sheriff’s Office. In 2015, he became our first deputy to wear the traditional Sikh articles of faith as part of his uniform.

Deputy Dhaliwal answered the call of duty determined to make a difference. He did. Nearly everyone in northwest Harris County – where he was ambushed during a routine traffic stop – knew who he was. His turban and beard, markers of his Sikh faith, and extraordinary spirit made him unforgettable. We received photos, videos, and countless tributes from residents that underscored Deputy Dhaliwal’s lasting impact on our region – from him coordinating hurricane relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey and traveling to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria to his playful spirit that was captured when he let a curious child handcuff him and then set him free.

On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office will conduct a vehicular processional in his honor near the Copperbrook community, the very district he patrolled and protected, prior to the family’s private prayer service. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the moment will be captured and shared on our social media platforms.

The pain is just as present today as it was the day of his passing. Not a day goes by that we do not mourn him. We remember his service, sacrifice, and the example he set for us all. Let’s continue to pray for his wife, three children, and family.

Deputy Dhaliwal took great pride in being a Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy, knowing that he was representing the Sikh community in a very visible way and making Harris County a better place through his positive interactions with residents.

Of all the things Deputy Dhaliwal gave, his unwavering commitment to community and a heart of service mattered most. The men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office who proudly served at his side continue to follow and live out Deputy Dhaliwal’s legacy of giving.

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

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Celebrating Our Deputies and Frontline Heroes

The Houston Texans are honoring local first responders and frontline heroes during this Sunday’s game versus the Baltimore Ravens. The front row seats at the first home game of the 2020 season will be filled with fan cutouts of our community’s heroes, including your Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies!

Our deputies and frontline workers have stepped up to tackle today’s unprecedented challenges and continue to give so much to our community during these uncertain times. Their daily, unwavering efforts play an essential role during the pandemic and keep Harris County residents healthy and safe year-round.

Please join me in rooting for the Houston Texans and recognizing our deputies and those on the front lines for the work they do for Harris County and surrounding communities by tuning in on game day at 3:25 p.m.

Connecting Criminal Justice Students with Communities in Recovery

The College of Public Service at the University of Houston Downtown (UHD) has partnered with the Sheriff’s Office since 2018 to host an invaluable senior seminar course for criminal justice students in the spring and fall semesters that integrates classroom and community elements into an established curriculum.

Dr. Judith Harris, associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, pioneered the partnership effort. She works directly with our Chaplaincy Services Program to provide college seniors interested in a criminal justice career with an opportunity to learn about the inner-workings of the Harris County Jail – the largest jail in Texas. These scholars also get acquainted with our Brothers in Arms Program, an initiative we launched to help and empower military veterans with resources and support while they’re incarcerated. Students see the importance of rehabilitation services and reentry programs first-hand.

In past semesters, students have received recovery training and hands-on experience at the Harris County Jail, placing them directly in the roles and communities they aspire to serve. Chaplaincy Services Program Coordinator Heide Laser, a UHD alumna and Dr. Harris’ former student, says the seminar has contributed to the success of the rehabilitation program and has resulted in several students pursuing a career with the Sheriff’s Office after graduation.

This semester, due to the pandemic, students will instead be tasked with creating their own videos on the unique, multifaceted issues veterans face after they return home from active military duty. The video topics will range from coping with their emotions when transitioning to civilian life to how to set boundaries while they’re incarcerated. The course will focus on student-inmate collaboration with The Brothers in Arms Program participants evaluating the core project and providing input to the students on what resources they found most helpful in the videos. We’re grateful for Dr. Harris’ ongoing commitment to service-learning, as well as our partnership with my alma mater, UHD.

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bill to Honor Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal

On Monday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to honor Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal by renaming the post office located at 315 Addicks Howell Rd. in his memory.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Deputy Dhaliwal’s death, the Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal Post Office Act serves as a reminder of his lasting contributions to Harris County and his deep, meaningful connections with the community he bravely served.

The men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office who proudly served at his side are grateful to Congresswoman Fletcher and the entire Texas delegation for working to honor Deputy Dhaliwal, a committed public servant who touched countless lives and a pioneer and trailblazer for the Sikh community.

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

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Project Guardian Improves Interactions With Persons With Autism

Nineteen years ago today, our nation lost 2,977 souls to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Today, we pause to remember all of them, including the 412 first responders who perished while striving to save others. They will never be forgotten.

At the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, we honor the sacrifices made by the first responders who served during 9/11, as well as those who protect their communities during other tragedies and disasters, by helping them get through tough times.

This morning, a caravan of Sheriff’s Office teammates returned to neighboring communities in Southwest Louisiana to continue supporting first responders – the very people who are helping their cities get back on their feet – and their families affected by Hurricane Laura.

Thanks to your generosity, essential relief items and meals from our collective drive and the Houston Food Bank reached residents in the DeRidder, DeQuincy, Leesville, and Merryville communities.

Over the past two weeks, our deputies have seen the storm’s widespread destruction and the subsequent need first-hand. The communities in Hurricane Laura’s direct path sustained significant property damage from the powerful wind surge, leaving many with prolonged power outages and unlivable conditions.

We’re grateful to our Harris County community for coming together and rallying behind those who lent us a hand during Hurricane Harvey three years ago. This is how we honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11.

Project Guardian

We launched Project Guardian to improve our agency’s interactions with children and adults in Harris County on the autism spectrum. The innovative program engages families with loved ones with autism and provides deputies with critical information about the person with autism, including whether they may have any special needs deputies should know about when encountering them during a call of service.

A simple interaction with law enforcement could be a very stressful or traumatic situation for a person with autism. Families are encouraged to participate in the program by submitting basic information about their loved one with autism.

We do all we can to best serve our residents with compassion and understanding.
Our deputies strive to respond as professionally, humanely, and safely as possible to the scene of a behavioral health crisis. Project Guardian engages the community, builds positive relationships, and embraces public safety as a shared responsibility.

For more information on Project Guardian or to register a loved one with autism, click here.

National Suicide Prevention Week

In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week, our Behavioral Health and Mental Health Divisions joined forces with VA Houston to host a Facebook Live discussion on suicide prevention resources and to answer questions from the community on crisis support.

The current pandemic may feel overwhelming and cause strong emotions. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, your loved ones, and your community stronger.

During this pandemic, it is critical that you recognize what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience, and know where to go if you need help.

The following warning signs from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event.

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or being a burden to others
  • Substance abuse
  • Acting anxious or behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or extreme mood swings

If you or someone you know is having a hard time, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free, confidential support 24/7.

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

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