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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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Supporting Our Friends in Louisiana

Thank you for helping us fill trailers and truckloads of nonperishable food and high-demand supplies for first responders and their families in Louisiana hit hard by Hurricane Laura. The outpouring of support from across the county was seen as an act of gratitude to our neighbors in Louisiana that rushed to our aid and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our agency and other public safety partners three years ago following Hurricane Harvey’s devastating blow to our region. We’re on our way to make our initial delivery to those in need.

We know first-hand about what hurricanes can do and what those affected need. We also know that first responders work around-the-clock during disasters and are not able to take time off to care for their own families. The first phase of our Hurricane Laura relief efforts focused on supporting those on the front lines.

When a resident from Richmond, Texas, heard about our Hurricane Laura Relief effort, he decided to drop off his own groceries. This is a testament to who we are as Texans, our community spirit, and generosity.

Since last week, our deputies stepped in to help those impacted by Hurricane Laura by coordinating with the Houston Food Bank, escorting food and pharmaceutical convoys, transporting supplies in high demand, and setting up donation collection supplies.
Our friends in Louisiana helped us during Harvey. Now it’s time to help them on their road to recovery.

Make a Plan: Don’t Drink and Drive

As we reflect on our daily dedication and commitment to our work this Labor Day weekend, let’s celebrate this special holiday responsibly.

Before the festivities begin, do your part to ensure everyone’s safety on our roads.

  • Don’t wait until after you have started drinking to make a plan. Alcohol impairs your judgment and you may think you’re okay to drive when you are not.
  • Designate a sober driver or arrange for someone you trust to pick you up.
  • Call or text a sober friend or family member.
  • Call a taxi or rideshare service, such as Uber or Lyft.
  • Use public transit, such as the METRORail, to get home safely.
  • You can visit to map out your night.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety are joining forces ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend to crack down on drunk drivers across the county.

Harris County has had one of the highest DWI fatality crash rates in the country for several years. The multi-agency impaired driver task force will focus on preventing alcohol and drug-related traffic incidents and saving lives. Dozens of deputies and state troopers will be out in full force to identify and arrest motorists that make the choice to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

Every single injury and death caused by drunk driving is preventable. If you’re drinking, don’t take a chance on being arrested or hurting yourself or someone else.

Have a fun-filled and safe Labor Day weekend with your loved ones. Enjoy a day of rest and be proud of your contributions to our communities.

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

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Monitor and Prepare for an Active Hurricane Season

Three years after Hurricane Harvey devastated our region, we once again braced for a week of uncertainty, as two separate storms in the Gulf of Mexico put us on high notice.

As we shifted our focus from Marco to Laura, at times, early forecasts put the greater Houston area in the storm’s cone or direct path. We monitored and prepared for the worst-case scenario and encouraged Harris County residents to do the same by following the latest updates from local authorities, making sure their disaster kit is stocked, and signing up for emergency alerts. Days before landfall, we staged our fleet of high-water rescue vehicles and watercraft throughout the region so that we’d be poised to act when called upon. Our Homeless Outreach Teams offered transportation to shelters and supplies as they visited encampments.

We haven’t forgotten Hurricane Harvey’s lessons. Since Harvey’s historic landfall, our agency has devoted more staff and resources to high-water equipment and swift water rescue training to better ensure the safety of our communities:

  • Our fleet of high-water trucks and Humvees has increased from 13 to 28.
  • Our fleet of air boats, flat-bottom boats, and inflatable boats increased from 3 to 13.
  • More than 40 deputies completed an intense, two-day swift water rescue training course. That number will soon approach 90, now that Harris County Commissioners Court has authorized additional training.
  • Our 911 call takers and dispatchers are in a new, elevated emergency call center that is designed to operate during and immediately following storms. It has three backup generators – one of which has enough fuel capacity to run the building at full power for 6 days – and can sustain wind speeds up to 155 mph.

As Laura neared the shore and moved inland, certainty and confidence grew in a landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border, sparing the Houston-Galveston region from its worst effects. However, the situation looked increasingly dire for our neighbors to the east of us as forecasters predicted Laura would become a Category 4 storm and bring life-threatening storm surge.

For us in Houston, the storm veering toward the Louisiana border meant bracing for primarily wind impacts felt throughout our community and potential prolonged power outages. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

We are reminded this is the most active period of hurricane season, and it is important to have emergency plans in place and supplies ready as weather forecasts can change quickly. Stay informed and be ready before a storm hits.

Missing in Harris County Day | August 29

Texas Center for the Missing, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the Houston Police Department, and other partners are hosting Missing in Harris County Day tomorrow from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., to help those with missing loved ones navigate the missing person system and connect with other missing person families for support.

  • The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department will be taking reports for missing persons.
  • Representatives from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) will be entering missing persons information into national databases.
  • Families will be encouraged to schedule a time to submit familial DNA samples used for identification.
  • A private missing person family support group gathering will be hosted virtually at 12:30 p.m. to provide a safe space to discuss these difficult cases. Contact Texas Center for the Missing at 713.599.0235 or to confirm your attendance at the private support group meeting.

For more information on Missing in Harris County Day, visit this website. Join the social conversation using the hashtag #MissingInHC.

Staying Alert

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 on the development of the virus and practicing daily precautions to protect ourselves and our neighbors.

Harris County Public Health (HCPH) provides regular updates on testing and confirmed cases in our area via the Harris County / Houston COVID-19 Cases Dashboard.

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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