Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Meet Our Behavioral Threat Assessment Unit

The Sheriff’s Office recognizes Stalking Awareness Month and advocates for everyone’s right to feel safe in their lives and communities.

Stalking is a pattern of predatory behavior that causes a victim to feel fear for their well-being or safety. It’s often linked to intimate partner violence and can have a significant traumatic effect on its victims. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly half of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next and experienced at least one unwanted contact with their perpetrator per week.

Last year we launched a Behavioral Threat Management Unit to tackle stalking and domestic violence incidents with a stalking nexus. The goal of the unit is to recognize and respond to threatening behaviors and to prevent volatile situations from escalating into violence.

We strive to be proactive and work toward preventing tragedies from occurring in the first place. The unit, led by Brad Rudolph, works through filed reports with a stalking nexus, carefully reviewing each case and thoroughly analyzing each piece of the puzzle. The unit’s investigator and analyst assess the circumstances from the stalking behavior to the perpetrator’s history and propensity for violence. In 2020, the unit reviewed nearly 2,000 incident reports and investigated over 30 harassment cases.

Stalking behaviors can include:

  • Making unwanted phone calls
  • Sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails
  • Following the victim or waiting at places for them
  • Inflicting property damage
  • Leaving unwanted items or gifts
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth

Because the crime of stalking takes place over a period of time, the unit encourages victims to keep a detailed log of the incidents that have been occurring. Even if the victim is not interested in pursuing criminal charges at the time, maintaining a log will be beneficial to law enforcement if the behavior increases or gets worse in the future.

Investigators conduct a threat assessment that focuses on identifying what are called “pre-incident indicators” or behaviors of concern to establish a pattern. Threat assessment is an evolving process where pertinent information is added and considered in real-time. An initial assessment may change significantly after a few pieces of critical information come to the surface. Several individual factors are considered and weighed, including the suspect’s mental and physical health, financial stability, support system and potential triggers. These are critical components of a meaningful threat assessment process.

The unit’s findings are often discussed at roundtable meetings with leading domestic violence partners and service organizations, including the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and Domestic Violence High Risk Team. This coordinated response against domestic violence offers additional perspective on the best path forward for each case and helps foster collaborations that maximize resources and strategies to keep the victim safe.

The intervention approach varies, but it always starts with research and an open conversation with the victim. This established communication builds rapport and instills confidence and comfort in the process.

Some cases will generate arrests, but in other cases, investigators may pursue emergency housing for the victim and a protective order against the perpetrator. Other times, they may approach it from a mental health standpoint. The unit stays involved in the investigation as the victim receives support from our partners who connect them to resources.

Let’s raise our collective voices against these incidents before they escalate into harm. As a community, we can keep an eye out for potential victims and pay attention to whether a situation seems dangerous for a friend, colleague, or family member. When you suspect something is happening, trust your instincts and say something.

Below are resources if you want to report stalking victimization:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call or text 911.
  • HCSO Behavioral Threat Management Unit: 713-274-4694
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233 or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto or text LOVEIS to 22522.
  • Houston Area’s Women Center’s 24/7 Hotline: 800-256-0551

We 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 violence for all.

We stand together against stalking. We are a community. And we are here to support you.

Brad Rudolph, Manager

“I am passionate about threat assessment and its methodologies because we’re not just reacting to situations,” says Brad Rudolph, Behavioral Threat Management Unit Manager.

“This proactive work can save lives.”

Jacob Walker, Deputy Investigator

Anthony Bush, Analyst

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – We Will Always Remember Sgt. Bruce Watson

Our Sheriff’s Office family came together on Tuesday to celebrate Sgt. Bruce Watson’s life. We were joined by his circle of loved ones and our extended law enforcement family at the Houston Police Department (HPD) to remember a great man of faith and community. After the service, we conducted a ceremony with honors and a presentation of Sgt. Watson’s motorcycle unit helmet to his wife Tracy, a 21-year HPD veteran and our sister in blue.

The tributes to Sgt. Watson were an uplifting reminder of our camaraderie and promise to be by each other’s side. There are few undertakings so noble as the protection of your community. Sgt. Watson did just that, dedicating his life to serving others – first as a proud U.S. Army veteran, serving in Operation Desert Storm, and then as a 20-year veteran of our agency.

Sgt. Watson received burial honors from the U.S. Army following a procession to the Houston National Cemetery.

His three children – Kierra, Brianna, and Bruce – and close friend Ethan said he loved being a peace officer and everything our badges represent. He was a beloved father, husband, brother, new grandfather, and treasured member of our agency. He will be missed by his teammates at the Emergency Dispatch Center and all who had the honor of knowing him. We will honor his memory by continuing to answer the call for service.

Please continue to pray that Sgt. Watson’s family finds comfort in knowing how many lives he touched and the many young deputies in our ranks he guided and mentored to be tomorrow’s leaders. We will keep him and his family in our hearts.

Detention Officer Samuel and His Family Displaced From Their Home After Fire

Detention Officer Genaro Samuel had just finished his shift at the jail last Saturday when he learned his home became engulfed in flames. His wife, daughter, and son were in the house when the fire started but escaped safely. Sadly, the family lost nearly all their belongings.

Detention Officer Samuel and his family are staying at a hotel provided by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Benevolence Association as they navigate the next steps and find a permanent place to live. We’re grateful for his family’s well-being and the outpouring of support they received from both teammates and residents.

Every contribution, prayer, and positive thought lifts these families and makes our agency stronger. It exemplifies what community is all about – giving back and lending a helping hand to those in need and leaning on each other during challenging times.

God bless you, and God bless the Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – In Loving Memory of Sgt. Bruce Watson

Our entire Sheriff’s Office family is saddened by the sudden and heartbreaking loss of our long-time brother, Sgt. Bruce Watson, and the senseless violence at a Midtown nightclub that led to three deputies wounded by gunfire and the death of a woman.

Sgt. Watson, a 20-year department veteran, was fatally struck on his way home by a vehicle in the Pearland area after serving as an off-duty motorcycle-escort for a funeral procession.

Sgt. Watson was assigned to the Patrol Support Services Bureau, working the night shift at the Emergency Dispatch Center. He joined the Sheriff’s Office in March 2000 and previously served as a Detention Sergeant in the Harris County Jail, a patrol field training officer, and an instructor at the training academy. He admirably served his country in the U.S. Army, rising through the ranks to sergeant, before returning to serve his community.

Through his life of public service, Sgt. Watson consistently invested in the next generation of deputies, mentoring them and guiding them to become our agency’s future leaders. His critical roles at our academy and in the field set the foundation for many deputies’ careers – modeling every aspect of how to apply academy knowledge to real situations involving real people and teaching young deputies the right way to do the job. For Sgt. Watson, this was one of the most rewarding assignments in all of law enforcement.

On Tuesday evening, our teammates joined fallen Sgt. Watson’s family for a candlelight vigil outside the Emergency Dispatch Center. His profound impact on the Sheriff’s Office was evident in the many anecdotes and memories shared there. He was remembered as one-of-a-kind with unmatched care for others – walking around the dispatch center to simply check in with his colleagues or occasionally bringing food for everyone to enjoy. He was also known to share words to lift his teammates during stressful times. A communications officer who worked closely with Sgt. Watson said he made it his mission to be there for you and she couldn’t have asked for a better watch command center leader. A common thread throughout the evening was Sgt. Watson’s immense pride in his newest role – grandfather – and how he embodied a great man of faith and community in all he did.

As we near Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, this past week’s tragedies are a stark reminder of the day-to-day dangers police face on the job and the work that still must be done to improve our dangerous roadways and tackle the rise in shootings and gun violence amid a pandemic.

Take a moment this Saturday to celebrate the deputies patrolling and protecting your neighborhood. These selfless men and women continue to perform their duties with the added stress of COVID-19 and the recent loss of a teammate. We are forever grateful for their endless service and sacrifice.

We’re also grateful for the support we’ve received from the Houston Police Department and extended law enforcement community across our region and country, as well as the outpouring of prayers and positive thoughts from the residents we serve. Our injured deputies remain in good spirits and continue to recover.

Please keep Sgt. Watson’s wife, a 21-year Houston Police Department veteran, and his three adult children, sister, grandbaby, and all those he touched in your thoughts during this tremendously difficult time. Donations for his family may be made in his name to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Benevolence Association.

Funeral services for Sgt. Watson will be held on Tuesday, January 12 at 10:30 a.m. The services will be live streamed on our Facebook page.

Our agency is better today because Sgt. Watson walked through our doors. Your brothers and sisters in blue have the watch from here.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Happy New Year!

With just hours left in 2020 (we’re almost there!), we’ve been reflecting on the achievements of a year like no other — when time spent at home felt endless, when life had a way of bringing everything into perspective, and when our courageous front-line workers risked their health and lives to protect ours.

In a year when the weight of the world seemed overwhelming, there were many bright spots for our agency and the residents we serve. Here are some big ones:

These accomplishments are the byproduct of our commitment to better serve you and the countless relationships and partnerships we’ve developed within our communities. Your readership and support mean a lot to us. We’ve had a challenging year, and like you, we look forward to better days in the coming weeks and months ahead.

With an important year on our horizon, the need for compassion remains. A world rooted in compassion and admirable empathy is a crucial piece in building a community resilient to challenges.

I miss seeing people’s smiles and gathering in-person at community events. Let’s continue to stay the course and be kind and support each other.

Wishing you a safe and joyous New Year!

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