Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Congratulations, Leadership Development Institute Graduates!

Last Friday afternoon, 30 Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies and staff members from all levels of the agency graduated from the Leadership Development Institute (LDI), a week-long leadership program established in 2013 to advance and engage our rising leaders. The program equips them with the necessary skills and tools to confidently and effectively lead others and better serve the residents of Harris County.

The mission of LDI is to “support becoming the leading Sheriff’s Office in the U.S. by creating quality standards, methods to measure our success, a culture of servant leadership accountability, and a shared commitment to enhance the safety and trust of the residents of Harris County.” It embodies our fifth core value of developing, encouraging, and caring for our Sheriff’s Office family and emphasizes servant leadership. The course instruction features prominent leaders and subject matter experts in government and the private industry and teaches various leadership styles rooted in servant leadership.

Program graduates will apply their learnings and the training to their day-to-day leadership roles and will work together to present innovative and viable ideas that seek to improve the agency.

Leadership requires an ongoing commitment to learning and growth, as well as a dedication to serve others. Join me in congratulating the graduates on this professional development milestone and their continued service to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Click here to view photos from the graduation.

Dog Walker Watch Program

Many neighbors walk their dogs at all times of the day, all days of the week, and in all weather conditions throughout their neighborhoods. The Dog Walker Watch Program is an awareness campaign that provides everyone, especially dog walkers, with information on how to be more alert and to better observe and report suspicious activity while out in their communities.

Our Community Engagement Division hosted a Facebook Live discussion earlier this week about the Dog Walker Watch Program, sharing the following information and safety tips to empower Harris County residents to take an active role in their communities:

  • Law enforcement needs your help. The majority of police arrests result from residents’ phone calls.
  • Everyone, not just dog walkers, can help keep their neighborhoods safe. Pledge to be the extra eyes and ears in your neighborhood.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t be distracted by phone calls, text messages, emails, or loud music.
  • Get to know your neighbors by introducing yourself, joining your homeowner association, and signing up for the Nextdoor application notifications.
  • Become aware of the types of criminal activity happening in your neighborhood.
  • Know the type of information law enforcement needs, including an address or intersection, suspect description, and a good contact phone number for follow-up.
  • Learn personal safety tips, such as changing your route on occasion, wearing bright or reflective clothing in the evenings, and taking your cell phone with you on walks or runs.
  • Call or text 911 when you or your neighbor needs immediate police assistance. For non-emergencies, call 713-221-6000.

For more information about the program, watch our recorded livestream or visit this website. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Crime Prevention Unit at crime.prevention@sheriff.hctx.net. You know your neighborhood the best. Thank you for your commitment to building a safer, more caring community with all of your neighbors.

Staying Alert

Flattening the curve and saving lives starts with staying informed on the development of COVID-19 and practicing the recommended guidelines from the CDC and local public health authorities. Harris County Public Health (HCPH) provides daily updates on testing and confirmed cases via the Harris County / Houston COVID-19 Cases Dashboard.

HCPH continues to provide free COVID-19 testing across Harris County, including two surge testing sites in the Cy Fair and Pasadena areas with evening appointments available. HCPH encourages residents to register for free COVID-19 testing if they are exhibiting symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

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

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Stronger Together

I hope your family is healthy, safe, and happy. I’m optimistic the month of August will bring new opportunities and a renewed spirit for all of us.

Harris County’s greatest strength is its residents and their unwavering resilience in the face of any obstacle. While many things may seem out of our control when it comes to COVID-19, let’s continue to work together, remain positive and build on what’s working for our communities – staying informed and practicing daily precautions to protect ourselves and our neighbors.

Share the Road

Pedestrian-related traffic crashes remain a serious problem across our region and state. Texas had the third highest number of pedestrian traffic fatalities in 2018 in the US, according to a study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

All of us share a responsibility to stay safe on our roads. The Texas Department of Transportation suggests we take the following precautions to enhance pedestrian safety:

What can pedestrians do to stay safe?
  • If there’s a sidewalk, use it. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
  • Always cross at intersections or marked crosswalks. Look both directions before proceeding to cross a street.
  • Obey all traffic signals.
  • Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
What can drivers do to help keep pedestrians safe?
  • Reduce your speed when approaching crosswalks and stop for pedestrians.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians when turning.
  • Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions – pedestrians may enter your path suddenly.
  • Obey the speed limit and drive to conditions.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Vehicular Crimes Division (VCD) responds to and investigates fatal crashes, including hit and run collisions and auto-pedestrian accidents. Watch this video to follow Deputy Balthazar, an accident investigator, for a day on the job and to learn more about our VCD. You can do your part to help prevent these tragedies from happening in our community.

Free Roadside Assistance Programs Expanded

With the support of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Houston-Galveston Area Council has expanded the service area of the Tow and Go Program, which provides no-cost towing for vehicles that break down due to mechanical failure, to include all camera-monitored freeways in Harris County, Bellaire, Jersey Village, La Porte and Humble.

The Sheriff’s Office has been an instrumental partner since the program’s launch, authorizing Tow and Go clearances, working hand-in-hand with approved operators, and maintaining the integrity of the program. All Tow and Go operators have met strict selection standards and completed roadway safety and traffic incident management training.

In addition to the Tow and Go expansion, the no-cost Motor Assistance Program (MAP) is now offering expanded service hours. Stranded motorists on Harris County freeways can receive immediate roadside assistance, 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday, through MAP.

MAP reduces traffic congestion and keeps motorists and first responders safe. Services include:

  • Changing a flat tire
  • Jump starting a car
  • Assisting with minor engine repair
  • Supplying fuel, water and/or air
  • Removing stranded vehicles from roadways
  • Providing stranded motorists with courtesy transportation to a safe location

As travelers take to area roads and freeways, safety should always be a top priority. The expansions of these quick clearance programs are another step toward reducing secondary incidents, keeping traffic moving, and most importantly, saving lives.

For more information about Tow and Go, visit TowAndGo.com or call 713-881-3333 for immediate roadside assistance.

For more information about MAP, click here or call 713-CALL-MAP (713-225-5627) for immediate roadside assistance.

Staying Alert

Harris County Public Health provides daily updates from across our region regarding testing, confirmed cases, and the development of COVID-19. For these updates, refer to the Harris County / Houston COVID-19 Cases Dashboard.

Everyone is at risk of getting sick from COVID-19, but minority communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus. It’s important to know the health disparities within our area and to take action. HCPH encourages residents to read its community health guide and to register for free COVID-19 testing if they feel they are exhibiting symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

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

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Hurricane Preparedness During COVID-19

Our first hurricane of the season, Hurricane Hanna, made landfall last Saturday as a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

COVID-19 cases continued to spike across the state as South Texas absorbed Hanna’s punch. We must come to grips with two simultaneous disasters this hurricane season – the potential for major storms and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – and alter our approach to planning for this year’s anticipated active hurricane season.

As public health officials and first responders continue evaluating how they handle evacuations, rescues, and other emergency preparations amid a public health crisis, residents are urged to incorporate tips from the CDC into their family hurricane preparedness plans to stay safe from severe storms and COVID-19.

  • Understand that your planning may be different this year because of COVID-19.
  • Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medical supplies. Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies.
  • Limit in-person visits to the pharmacy by signing up for delivery or using drive-through windows or curbside pickup.
  • Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters.
  • When you check on neighbors and friends, follow social distancing and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.

In anticipation of an active hurricane season, our new Flood Rescue Team, which is made up of patrol and Maritime Unit deputies, participated in a two-day swiftwater rescue course this week at Academy Fathom in Georgetown, Texas. Swiftwater rescue training is critical to ensuring our deputies can safely and effectively set up and support emergency response and rescue operations during extreme weather events.

Although Hurricane Hanna weakened to a tropical depression, the storm’s real threat remained heavy rainfall and the potential for flash flooding. Stay alert, take all necessary precautions, and follow the guidance of local officials. Monitor the local NWS forecast and sign up for emergency alerts at ReadyHarris.org.

Detention Officers of the Quarter

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office recognized Detention Officers Quiana Bigham and Luis Reyes as Detention Officers of the Quarter for distinguishing themselves through exemplary service and devotion to duty. Read their inspiring stories of service and join me in congratulating them on this honor.

Detention Officer Luis Reyes began his career with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in November 2018. He is known as an efficient and reliable detention officer, always giving his best efforts to any assigned task.

On July 8, 2020, Detention Officer Reyes was conducting a routine search on an inmate brought into the Joint Processing Center for a warrant and discovered an illegal substance. He then requested supervisor approval to conduct a more extensive search on the inmate and located a fully loaded handgun. Detention Officer Reyes ensured the safety and security of inmates, detention officers, and jail staff.

Detention Officer Quiana Bigham began her career with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in 2001. She is known for her daily dedication and commitment to professionalism. She is currently assigned to the Central Records Division as a Jail Card Custodian.

On January 31, 2020, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office submitted a commendation letter for Detention Officer Bigham, outlining her attentiveness and professional demeanor in her role. Detention Officer Bigham was applauded for her ability to quickly process jail card requests for the District Attorney’s Office and for adhering to our core value of embracing and delivering professional service.

Staying Alert

Harris County Public Health provides daily updates from hospitals, medical facilities, and other health officials across our region regarding testing, confirmed cases, and the development of COVID-19. For these updates, refer to the Harris County / Houston COVID-19 Cases Dashboard.

HCPH encourages residents to get tested for COVID-19 if they feel they are exhibiting symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive. Learn more about free testing and take the Houston and Harris County Public Health self-assessment tool here.

This weekend we welcome the start of a new month. I hope the month of August brings you a renewed spirit with new opportunities. God bless you, and may God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – In Loving Memory of Cadet Anderson

The men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office came together on Monday with Cadet Cornelius Anderson’s loving circle of family and friends to mourn the passing of a beloved son, brother, and public servant. Funeral services with full honors for Cadet Anderson were held at Humble First Assembly of God.

Cornelius Anderson was a part of our greater Houston community, graduating from North Shore Senior High School and the University of Houston-Downtown. He was also a treasured member of our agency, and he will be terribly missed by everyone who had the honor of knowing him.

Cadet Anderson was looking forward to dedicating his life to protecting and serving our communities. He did not get to fulfill his goal of becoming a deputy, but we posthumously named him an honorary deputy at his memorial service on Monday.

Cadet Anderson’s character and dedication to making a difference showed everyone he encountered that he was made for the job. He was a great teammate and a wonderful person who inspired and positively influenced his many friends and colleagues through his commitment to service.

Please continue to pray for his family and loved ones during this difficult time. Donations for Cadet Anderson’s family may be made in his name to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Benevolence Association. We will keep him and his family in our hearts. Your brothers and sisters in blue have the watch from here.

Hurricane Preparedness

With summer comes the beginning of hurricane season. We’ve already seen multiple storm systems form in the tropics, including one that’s poised to impact our weather this weekend. The best thing to do before a hurricane warning is issued is to prepare.

One of the most important roles our agency plays during hurricane season is encouraging residents to stay informed and be ready. Our agency works together as a team with each other, our public safety partners, and our community before, during, and after a crisis.

Follow these important hurricane preparedness tips from the CDC:

  • Get emergency supplies: Have enough supplies for your household, including medication, disinfectant supplies, cloth face coverings, and pet supplies.
  • Make a plan: Create a family disaster plan.
  • Avoid flooded areas: Take precautions before, during, and after a flood.
  • Prepare to Evacuate: Never ignore an evacuation order.
  • Protect older adults: Understand older adult health and medical concerns.
  • Protect your pets: Ensure your pet’s safety before, during, and after an emergency.
  • Stay safe after a hurricane: Learn how to avoid injuries, make sure your food and water are safe, and clean up mold safely.
  • Review important documents: Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password-protected digital space.
  • Strengthen your home: Declutter drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, and consider hurricane shutters.
  • Stay informed: Identify and follow your local weather authority.

You can’t stop a hurricane, but you can act now to protect yourself and your household. Put together an emergency plan and make sure every member of your family knows what to do. Visit Ready Harris to sign up for local emergency alerts, as well as to learn about a disaster supply kit checklist, evaluation tips, helpful websites and more.

Safety Tips for Driving in Severe Weather

The heavy rain we experienced this week was a reminder to take certain precautions when driving in inclement weather.

Here are tips from Ready Harris that can save lives:

  • Allow for more travel time and plan to drive at a slower pace than normal when the roads are wet. Traffic is likely to be moving slower due to accidents or flooded roads.
  • Brake earlier and with less force than you would normally.
  • Avoid crossing flooded areas. If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water.
  • Never attempt to go around barricades. It is against the law, and they are there for your safety.
  • Turn on your headlights to help you see the road and help other motorists see you.
  • Pull over and wait it out if it is raining so hard that you cannot see the road or the car in front of you.
  • Give trucks or buses extra distance. Their extra-large tires can create enough spray to block your vision completely.
  • Defog your windows. Rain will quickly cause your windshield to fog up.
  • Monitor road conditions with the Roadway Flood Warning System and seek alternate routes when roads are flooded.

Remember to always have a plan and stay informed to protect yourself and your loved ones from severe weather threats. Residents are encouraged to monitor the local NWS forecast and to sign up for emergency alerts at ReadyHarris.org.

National Hire a Veteran Day

This Saturday, July 25, is National Hire a Veteran Day. We honor the women and men who have served in the US Armed Forces and are proud to foster a supportive culture for veterans across our agency. In their annual “Best for Vets” employer rankings, The Military Times recognized the Harris County Sheriff’s Office as the number one government and nonprofit organization employer for veterans in 2019. Last year, nearly 200 employers in the nation competed for the “Best for Vets” recognition, providing in-depth data on their culture, recruiting, policies and resources related to veterans, service members and military families.

If you’re looking to make a difference, learn more about our career opportunities here.

Staying Alert

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) continues to work closely with the CDC and other public health organizations to monitor and educate the public about COVID-19.

HCPH provides daily updates from hospitals, medical facilities, and other health officials across our region regarding testing, confirmed cases, and the development of COVID-19. For these updates, refer to the Harris County / Houston COVID-19 Cases Dashboard.

HCPH encourages residents to get tested for COVID-19 if they feel they are exhibiting symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive. Learn more about free testing and take the Houston and Harris County Public Health self-assessment tool here.

As the number of COVID-19 cases climb across Harris County, we must stay vigilant and protect ourselves, our loved ones, and neighbors. Stay home when possible, wear face masks, practice social distancing, and remain hopeful.

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

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