Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez:
Giving thanks and spreading cheer is the perfect way to kick off this year’s holiday season. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has been carrying out a heartwarming initiative for 29 consecutive years to bring joy and happiness to children the Children’s Assessment Center (CAC) serves. The Center is dedicated to providing services to abused children in the local area.
Every holiday season, our Sheriff’s Office teammates sponsor children of all ages, purchasing toys from their wish lists to help make their holiday brighter and filled with moments of happiness. This year, our teammates bought 1,000 gifts for 500 kids, ensuring each child receives two gifts.
Today, Friday, December 8, 2023, Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted HCSO as we unloaded a semi-truck and a smaller truck full of gifts. Our long-standing partnership with the CAC has been instrumental in securing the safety and well-being of our community’s most precious resource.
The HCSO Crimes Against Children Unit investigators, who are committed to conducting thorough investigations into allegations of child abuse, work closely with the advocacy center to ensure that abused children receive the proper assistance, treatment, and services necessary to begin their healing process. I am grateful for the generosity of our teammates.
I’m thankful to lead an agency that comes together during this special time of the year to benefit children in our community. The Holiday Toy Drive reflects the compassionate spirit of our law enforcement family.
Pedestrian Safety Tips for Harris County Residents
Pedestrian-related traffic crashes continue to be a serious concern across our community. As we strive to create safer streets for everyone, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office urges all residents to prioritize pedestrian safety.
This year to date, the HCSO Vehicular Crimes Unit has investigated 57 auto vs. pedestrian collisions that have resulted in a total of 60 pedestrian deaths.
Last year, our investigators worked on 53 auto vs. pedestrian collisions that resulted in 53 pedestrian deaths. In 2021, our investigators worked 46 auto vs. pedestrian collisions, resulting in 48 pedestrian deaths.
The number of auto-pedestrian fatalities keeps increasing year after year. Whether you’re walking for exercise, commuting, or simply enjoying the outdoors, following these safety tips for pedestrians can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.
- Use Designated Crosswalks: Always cross the street at designated crosswalks or intersections.
- Stay Visible: Wear reflective clothing or a flashlight to enhance visibility if you walk at night.
- Avoid Distractions: Stay focused while walking and avoid distractions such as texting or using headphones.
- Follow Traffic Rules: Obey traffic signals and signs, just like drivers.
- Walk Against Traffic: If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic to see oncoming vehicles.
- Be Predictable: Follow a straight line when walking and avoid sudden movements.
- Watch for Turning Vehicles: Be cautious when crossing driveways or intersections, as drivers may not see you, especially when turning.
- Teach Children Road Safety: Educate children about pedestrian safety rules and supervise them when walking near traffic.
We also want to share important driver safety tips to help prevent auto-pedestrian fatalities.
- Stay Alert: Pay attention to the road and eliminate distractions like texting or adjusting the radio while driving.
- Obey Speed Limits: Adhere to posted speed limits, especially in residential areas and near schools.
- Stop for Pedestrians: Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Be courteous and give them the right of way.
- Use Caution at Intersections: Exercise caution when approaching intersections, and be prepared to yield to pedestrians.
- Look Before Turning: Check for pedestrians, especially those crossing the street you are turning into.
- Don’t Drive Under the Influence: Impaired driving significantly increases the risk of pedestrian accidents.
Incorporating these safety tips into your driving habits creates a safer environment for pedestrians and fellow motorists.
Let’s work together to prevent auto-pedestrian fatalities and ensure the well-being of our community. Thank you for your commitment to road safety.
Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season
As the holiday season approaches, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is committed to ensuring your safety and well-being.
Here are some important personal safety tips to keep in mind during this festive time:
- Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Whether shopping, attending events, or running errands, stay vigilant and be aware of who and what is around you.
- Secure Your Home: Before leaving home, lock all doors and windows.
- Avoid Displaying Valuables: Refrain from displaying valuable items in your car or public. This includes shopping bags, expensive jewelry, and electronics.
- Protect Personal Information: Be cautious about sharing personal information, especially in crowded places. Keep your purse and wallet secure, and only carry essential documents.
- Use Well-Lit Areas: When walking in the evenings, stick to well-lit paths and streets. Avoid shortcuts through dark or isolated areas.
- Stay Connected: Let someone know your plans, especially if you go alone. Stay connected with friends or family, and communicate your whereabouts.
- Be Cautious of “Jugging” Incidents: Jugging occurs when criminals observe individuals making bank transactions or purchasing high-value items and then target them for theft. Pay attention to who is around you when leaving a bank or ATM. Be cautious if you notice anyone observing your transactions. Avoid establishing predictable patterns. Change your routes and times for banking or shopping to make it more difficult for criminals to target you.
Staying alert and following these safety tips can reduce the risk of falling victim. Let’s ensure a safe and secure holiday season for our community. I am wishing you a safe and joyful holiday season!
Last week, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office announced the latest regarding our work to rid the Harris County Jail of dangerous contraband. A few weeks ago, we announced the arrest of a local attorney charged with delivering dangerous narcotics to the jail.
Deputies worked closely with the DA’s office to build a case culminating in indicting former detention officer Robert Robertson, 24. He has a felony charge of engaging in organized criminal activity to introduce narcotics into a jail facility. We relieved him of duty and will move forward with the termination process. He worked with our agency for six years.
No one, especially our teammates, will be given leniency when it comes to actions that endanger the lives of those in our jail.
HCSO In The News
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is still trying to find the gunman involved in a deadly road rage incident in the Cloverleaf area earlier this month. They just released video and photos of the suspect’s vehicle. Angel Muñiz-Acosta, 21, was rushed to the hospital after he was shot on Nov. 19 but he later died. His girlfriend, also 21, wasn’t injured in the shooting.
Many drivers in the East Aldine area will get vouchers – rather than traffic tickets – if they are stopped for non-functioning vehicle lights. The switch from a costly citation to a money-saving certificate worth up to $250 is part of a new $50,000 pilot program for Harris County that goes into action starting Monday, Nov. 20.
“Instead of receiving a citation, the deputies will be giving you a voucher to get your lights fixed. It could be a headlight, a taillight, a blinker, or a license plate,” Lt. Mike Santos said. “It builds a better bond with the community, and it helps people get their lives back on track.”
My Neighborhood News: Harris County Sheriff’s Office PAL Team Launches Shop with a Cop Essay Contest
The holiday season is about to get brighter for young minds in the Houston and surrounding areas as the Harris County Sheriff’s Office PAL team unveils the 2023 Shop with a Cop Essay Contest. Open to youth aged 8 to 17 years, this exciting opportunity invites participants to articulate their thoughts on “Who is my Hero and Why” in a concise 200-word essay. Submissions are to be emailed to email@example.com, with a deadline set for December 13, 2023.
A detention officer has become the second person arrested in connection with smuggling illegal drugs into Harris County Jail, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Wednesday afternoon. In October, investigators uncovered evidence that a detention officer was potentially selling drugs to people in the jail, Gonzalez said. A team then confirmed that the detention officer delivered K2 synthetic marijuana and marijuana to people in the jail. It’s believed he also delivered other illegal narcotics, and the investigation continues.
The HCSO’s seasonal member, Deputy Elfington, is spreading holiday cheer and good vibes by introducing you to various HCSO teammates! Follow his adventures on our social media platforms.
Deputy Elfington joined Detention Officer Elvia Guzman at the HCSO Women’s Empowerment Center.
In February, HCSO and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez inaugurated the center, a new gender-responsive, reentry-focused facility. “I love my job because I am making a difference in the lives of these females,” said Detention Officer Guzman.
“I love encouraging the residents to attend classes and firmly believe everyone deserves a second chance. With the programs we offer here, the residents can do better once they are released from Harris County custody. Here at the WEC, we work as a team and are a family.”
Detention Officer Guzman started working at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in April 2014 and serves at the Women’s Empowerment Center.
Deputy Elfington shadowed Chief Deputy Mike Lee and learned about his daily work.
Chief Lee is responsible for overseeing all of the day-to-day operations of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. He joined the Sheriff’s office in 2017 after 27 years of service with the Houston Police Department.
Formally, as the Major of Patrol and Special Projects, Chief Lee oversaw all patrol operations and created collaborative model strategies for responding to individuals with mental illness and those experiencing homelessness.
Deputy Elfington has been busy this week getting to know many teammates. Earlier this week he was in patrol District 2 in north Harris County with Deputy Cody Mathes, enforcing speed limits.
Deputy Mathes joined HCSO in 2014 as a detention officer and became a deputy in 2018. He’s currently serving in the District 2 Traffic Enforcement Unit.
Deputy Elfington was also at Houston Transtar with Communication Officer Dulce Karina Tristan keeping an eye on the freeways to see who needs some assistance.
Communication Officer Tristan has been serving with our agency for 16 years. In 2016, she transferred to Houston Transtar to support the HCSO Motorist Assistance Program and Incident Management Unit.
Call 713-CALL-MAP if you ever need emergency roadside assistance. Click here for more information.
Congratulations to our new detention officers on their graduation! We are incredibly proud of your hard work and dedication. Thank you for your commitment to serving and protecting. Join our team! Visit HCSOJobs.com or call 713-877-5250 to apply today!
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office highlight teammates who go above and beyond their normal duties to serve others. We receive positive commendations daily from the community describing positive impacts.
“On August 19, 2023, Deputy Berrios went above and beyond to assist my husband, a disabled veteran. During a Houston Texans football game, my husband stumbled and dropped all his food. Deputy Berrios ensured my husband was physically okay and then walked with him back to the concession stands to get additional food for our family,” said a Harris County resident.
“Deputy Berrios went a step further by ensuring that my husband did not incur any additional costs and by carrying the food back to our seats for my husband. The kindness he extended to us helped us have an enjoyable family outing. Thank you again, Deputy Berrios.”
Deputy Berrios joined HCSO in 2008 as a detention officer and became a deputy in 2014. He’s currently assigned to the Patrol Support Services Bureau/Special Operations Divisions- Parks Section.
The HCSO Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL) Team is thrilled to announce the 2023 Shop with a Cop Essay Contest! The competition is open to children between 8 and 17 years of age. To participate in the contest, write a 200-word essay on “Who is your Hero and Why” and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline to submit the essay is Wednesday, December 13, 2023. The eight winners will be announced on December 15, 2023.
The fortunate winners can participate in our Shop with a Cop program, which Target sponsors. The event is planned to take place on the morning of December 22, 2023. Please be aware that all participants must reside in Houston or the surrounding regions and arrange their transportation.
This is an excellent opportunity for young people to share their thoughts and potentially win a unique experience with law enforcement officials. We look forward to receiving your inspiring essays, and good luck to all participants!
Join the ¡Que Onda! Magazine 2nd Annual Softball Tournament
The HCSO Community Engagement Division and other teammates will be participating in the second annual softball tournament of ¡Que Onda! Magazine. See flyer for details.