Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Don’t Grapple with Theft This Holiday Season

As we look forward to Thanksgiving next week – and the upcoming holiday season – it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the true meaning of the celebrations.

Holidays are an important way to celebrate our strong bonds with family, close friends, and neighbors. They bring us joy and a sense of belonging and community. They give us a way to express what is important to us, connecting us and helping us cherish family and generations of traditions. ‘Tis the season!

We talked to our Community Engagement Division about the importance of taking precautions and being safe this holiday season. Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season. As you search for the perfect holiday decorations and gifts, have a game plan to shop safely.

With the excitement of buying and wrapping gifts, comes an opportunity for thieves to steal everything from your identity to the gifts under your tree. Don’t let the season of giving become the season of taking. Deputy Rivers shared online and in-person shopping safety and theft prevention tips for us to keep in mind:

Online Shopping Holiday

  • Stick to retailers you know, and you’ve shopped with before.
  • Research retailers you’re not familiar with or have not shopped with.
  • Check web addresses, also known as URLs, to ensure they are secure by looking for the web address to start with “https” and the “lock” icon in the search browser.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi while making online purchases.
  • Save your receipts and monitor your bank account and credit activity, ensuring the costs of the items you purchased are properly reflected in your banking statements.
  • Try to stick to using one credit card to make tracking identity theft and your purchases easier.

While in Your Car

  • Be patient and take your time when you’re looking for a parking space.
  • Be alert and watch for drivers speeding up to look for empty spaces.
  • Park in well-lit, high traffic areas.
  • Store shopping bags and goods out of sight.
  • Lock your car doors and take your personal belongings with you in the store.

While in the Store

  • Keep your purse or bag close to your body.
  • Avoid putting your shopping bags and personal belongings in the cart – that’s the first place it will disappear from when you turn your back.
  • If you carry a wallet in your pockets, keep it in your front pocket.
  • If you’re shopping with children, identify the store personnel so they know who to ask for help.
  • Don’t argue over store items, it can be dangerous and escalate to an assault.
  • Follow the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Harris County Public Health.

It’s easy to get caught up in grocery shopping, cooking, and Black Friday shopping, but Thanksgiving really is all about giving thanks. Take a moment to reflect on your blessings and remind yourself and others what you’re grateful for.

Thank you for the privilege to serve you as Harris County Sheriff and to lead an agency of devoted public servants who are committed to building safe and secure communities.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Honoring Those Who Served

We humbly pay tribute to those who have served our country and the many veterans in our agency who continue serving their communities. This week, and all year long, we celebrate these American heroes who have fought and sacrificed for our liberty and freedom.

On Veterans Day, we joined communities across our county and nation to honor our veterans and show appreciation for their patriotism and willingness to serve and live a life of sacrifice. We owe them an enduring debt of gratitude.

On Wednesday morning, we visited the Houston National Cemetery to place 500 American flags on the graves of past service members and to pay our respects to our fallen heroes. It was an important reminder of the neighbors and loved ones we’ve lost and a moment to salute their legacy and ultimate sacrifice. We paused to reflect on the history of our armed forces and the battles they’ve fought for the opportunities we have today. Later that evening, District 2 deputies participated in a drive-by celebration for World War II veteran Vincent Moreno. The 96-year-old war hero was greeted by honks, sirens, and lines of his neighbors cheering.

Houston has one of the largest veteran populations in the nation, with more than 300,000 military veterans calling the Greater Houston area home. Veterans lift up the entire community and play a large role in our region’s growth and overall success. They are a part of the communities they serve. Veterans are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our leaders. They represent and embody everything we should aspire to be – resilient and service-minded. Their stories and experiences inspire others to give back with pride.

At the Sheriff’s Office, we honor our deputies and teammates who have served in the US Armed Forces and continue their public service journey as first responders and public servants. We benefit greatly from their wealth of experience and commitment to teamwork and community.

We empower our veterans and foster a supportive culture for them. In their annual “Best for Vets” employer rankings, The Military Times has recognized the Harris County Sheriff’s Office as a top government and nonprofit organization employer for veterans. Hundreds of employers in the nation compete for the 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.

We’re grateful for the veterans in our ranks and their countless contributions to the Sheriff’s Office. We celebrate them always. Meet some of the many current and past service members across our divisions via our Veterans Day tribute video.

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

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – In Loving Memory of Deputy Johnny Tunches

Harris County residents cast ballots in record numbers, shattering our county’s all-time voter turnout record in the face of a pandemic. This extraordinary surge during this historic election speaks volumes about our community’s commitment to democracy and making our voices heard.

It has been the honor of my life to serve you as Harris County Sheriff. I’m grateful to the voters of Harris County for entrusting me with the important responsibility of leading this agency of devoted and dedicated public servants. It’s a duty and privilege I never take lightly. My second term as Sheriff was earned as a team and is a testament to the collective efforts of my teammates who make the Sheriff’s Office “The Pride of Texas” and a model agency across our state and nation.

We hold the public’s trust as sacred and will always strive to put your safety first through proactive, community policing. With your support, we’ve made significant strides over the past four years and look forward to building on that momentum. Our agency has actively addressed mental health and homelessness issues, as well as disparities in the local criminal justice system through dedicated training, collaborative partnerships, and innovative programs. We have proven that public safety and societal equity can both be achieved without sacrificing either. In fact, we have shown that public safety is best achieved when everyone knows they can trust that our deputies will consistently treat them with dignity and respect.

But much work remains to be done. We must continue to identify critical tools and search for new ways to improve the safety of our county. We must also move closer toward a more effective, equitable, and thoughtful approach to law enforcement.

We are in this together. The partnership between you and our agency is critical in preventing crime and maintaining a safe and secure community. I am encouraged and energized by our overwhelming enthusiasm for democracy and challenge us to remain engaged in our communities to build a brighter future for our county. Your participation is the cornerstone of our democracy and the catalyst for safer, more caring communities.

Mourning the Loss of Deputy Johnny Tunches

It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announced the passing of our long-time brother and teammate, Deputy Johnny Tunches, on early Tuesday morning.

Deputy Tunches, a 29-year-veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and a U.S. Navy veteran, passed away after a courageous battle against COVID-19. He was hospitalized for nearly a month after contracting the virus. While he was in an intensive care unit, our Chaplin and his teammates gathered outside the hospital to lift him and his family up in prayer.

Deputy Tunches began his service with our agency in 1991 at a former detention center in the Atascocita area before working at the Inmate Processing Center. His latest assignment was serving the residents of north Harris County as a Contract Deputy in District 2, the same district our fallen brother Sgt. Scholwinski patrolled and protected.

Deputy Tunches was part of a family of public service. His brother, Randy Tunches, was part of our agency’s vice squad and retired as a Lieutenant.

Please keep his wife, Sara, three daughters, 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.

In the line of duty funeral services for Deputy Tunches will be held on Thursday, November 12 at the First Assembly of God Church in Humble. The services will be live streamed on our Facebook page starting at 10 a.m.

We will keep Deputy Tunches and his family in our hearts. Your brothers and sisters in blue have the watch from here.
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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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