Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Avoid Distractions and Stay Safe on the Road

October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This month is about raising awareness and finding solutions to prevent injuries and fatalities on our roadways. It’s a time to have meaningful conversations about safe driving behaviors and the dangers of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is anything that keeps your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and your mind off the important task of driving. It takes many forms and isn’t just about texting or talking. A lot of things can keep you from driving safely besides your phone – eating, having a conversation with a passenger, attending to children, putting on makeup, or changing radio stations.

Distracted driving can have dire consequences. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT):

  • One in five crashes on our state’s roads is caused by a distracted driver.
  • In 2019, there were 100,000 crashes and more than 370 fatalities across the state caused by distracted driving.
  • In 2019, there were 22 distracted driving fatalities in Harris County.

Crash statistics and death rates are not just numbers. Deputy Lillibridge, with our Vehicular Crimes Division, reminds us there’s a person and a grieving family behind each statistic. Lives can be lost forever because one text couldn’t wait.

TxDOT and our Vehicular Crimes Division encourage drivers to:

  • Always give driving your full attention. It’s against the law in Texas to read, write or send a text while driving.
  • Make any adjustments to your GPS, seats, mirrors, radio, and air condition before getting on the road.
  • Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.

For more safe driving tips, click here.

National Teen Driver Safety Week

Did you know the leading cause of death for teenagers in our country is car crashes? Learning to drive can be an overwhelming time for teenagers and their caregivers. Parents who are preparing to hand car keys to their teen are encouraged to take steps to help their loved one become a safe and capable driver before they get behind the wheel.

Our partners at AAA Texas are hosting several free virtual teen driver workshops through the remainder of the year to help teens and their parents navigate this important milestone. The interactive workshop will help participants understand teen driving habits, the common risks associated with teen drivers, any driver restrictions or requirements, and what to look for in a driving school.

Education and awareness are key to preventing these tragedies. Let’s all do our part and commit to driving safely to end the streak of daily deaths on our roadways.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – We Stand With Domestic Violence Victims and Survivors

Earlier this week, the Sheriff’s Office joined the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC) and other community partners to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to advocate for every person’s right to feel safe in their relationships, homes, and communities.

According to HAWC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. It’s often a hidden threat in our community, lurking behind closed doors.

At a time when public health officials are urging us to stay at home as much as possible, domestic violence victims are finding their home to be a trap. We are seeing that isolation – while helping with the spread of coronavirus – is exacerbating any abuse that might have been taking place previously.

In response to the pandemic’s devastating consequences for people living with abusive partners and family members, HAWC and its partners launched the Safe at Home campaign. At the heart of the campaign is the notion that everyone deserves to live a life free from violence.

Our deputies are entrusted by our community to protect them. At the Sheriff’s Office, we take very seriously our duty to help those who are being hurt by someone who is supposed to love them. One of our most important responsibilities is investigating cases of abuse, which is why we have a dedicated Domestic Violence Unit and a Crime Victim Assistance Unit.

Earlier this year, our agency launched a new unit to tackle a key component of domestic violence – stalking. The goal of our Behavioral Threat Management Unit is to prevent volatile situations from escalating into harm or violence. Our agency strives to be proactive and work toward preventing these types of tragedies from occurring in our county.

And while the work of these units is always important, it is especially critical during a crisis. Our deputies know first-hand that crises foster unprecedented stress and uncertainty.

Our domestic violence related calls for service have gradually increased countywide since the end of February and are up compared to last year. There have been 87 homicides since January – 23 of those homicides were family violence related and 11 of the 23 homicides were committed by an intimate partner.

During this challenging time, many victims may feel compelled to cling to their homes and family, but no one should feel obligated to remain in an abusive relationship of any form. Domestic violence victims deserve our utmost compassion and support.

This type of violence was a public crisis long before COVID-19 and is believed to be an underreported crime. Let’s raise our collective voices against this serious, heartbreaking issue. As a community, we can keep an eye out for potential victims and pay attention to whether a situation seems dangerous for a neighbor, friend, or family member. When you suspect something is happening, trust your instincts and say something. Now more than ever, it’s really important to build community around a survivor.

We cannot do this alone. As an agency, we participate in a coordinated response against domestic violence that includes training for our deputies, encouraging residents to report incidents, and working closely with domestic violence partner agencies that provide essential crisis tools and resources to empower survivors. Our partners connect survivors to shelter assistance, legal consultations, employment opportunities, and more.

Below are some resources for residents who are either in a domestic violence situation or want to report a domestic violence situation:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call or text 911.
  • 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 Hotlines:
  • Harris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Victims Unit: 713-274-9369

I 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 and sexual violence for all.

We stand together with domestic violence victims and survivors. We are a community. And we are here to support you.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Know Your Neighbor, Build a Strong Community

This week, we take a moment to celebrate our communities, the feelings of connectivity fostered by them, and what it means to be a good neighbor.

While we can’t partake in our usual National Night Out festivities this year due to the current pandemic, we can carry on the true meaning of this annual tradition – community.

We will miss coming together with you for the block parties, cookouts, and other fun activities that this evening is known to bring to our front yards, but we recognize at the heart of National Night Out is neighbors building bonds with each other and with our deputies patrolling and protecting their community.

You and your neighbors are the collective backbone of a thriving community. Our deputies are also a part of your community. We are actively present in your neighborhoods every day, keeping your families, neighbors, and businesses safe. We patrol your streets, provide you with important public safety information, and share helpful crime prevention resources and tips. We are here for you.

But public safety is a shared responsibility. You play a critical role in keeping your neighborhood safe and we rely on you to be the extra eyes and ears on your block. You know your home the best.

Now more than ever, staying connected and building a strong support system – even from afar – is vital. Get to know your neighbors by introducing yourself, joining your homeowner association, and signing up for Nextdoor, a social app that allows you to make online connections with residents in your community to exchange helpful information relevant or unique to your neighborhood. Follow our agency on Nextdoor to become more aware of how we are supporting and serving you on a daily basis.

Thank you for being a good neighbor. I look forward to the day we can come together in person again. In the meantime, stay healthy and well. Do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following the guidelines set by the CDC and Harris County Public Health, the local public health authority.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Remembering Our Fallen Brother Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal

Our Harris County Sheriff’s Office family and community pays tribute to our fallen brother Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal on the first anniversary of his death.

This Sunday marks one year since our entire community – and the world – began mourning his loss and honoring his memory. Harris County residents from all walks of life spoke of his special connection with the people in his district, as well as his deep commitment to a life of service and his faith. This was a sign of how beloved Deputy Dhaliwal was by his fellow deputies and the community.

Deputy Dhaliwal joined our agency as a detention officer in 2009 after feeling called to build a bridge between law enforcement and the Sikh community. He later became a patrol deputy. He paved the way for other Sikhs to join the agency as the first member of their community to serve at the Sheriff’s Office. In 2015, he became our first deputy to wear the traditional Sikh articles of faith as part of his uniform.

Deputy Dhaliwal answered the call of duty determined to make a difference. He did. Nearly everyone in northwest Harris County – where he was ambushed during a routine traffic stop – knew who he was. His turban and beard, markers of his Sikh faith, and extraordinary spirit made him unforgettable. We received photos, videos, and countless tributes from residents that underscored Deputy Dhaliwal’s lasting impact on our region – from him coordinating hurricane relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey and traveling to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria to his playful spirit that was captured when he let a curious child handcuff him and then set him free.

On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office will conduct a vehicular processional in his honor near the Copperbrook community, the very district he patrolled and protected, prior to the family’s private prayer service. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the moment will be captured and shared on our social media platforms.

The pain is just as present today as it was the day of his passing. Not a day goes by that we do not mourn him. We remember his service, sacrifice, and the example he set for us all. Let’s continue to pray for his wife, three children, and family.

Deputy Dhaliwal took great pride in being a Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy, knowing that he was representing the Sikh community in a very visible way and making Harris County a better place through his positive interactions with residents.

Of all the things Deputy Dhaliwal gave, his unwavering commitment to community and a heart of service mattered most. The men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office who proudly served at his side continue to follow and live out Deputy Dhaliwal’s legacy of giving.

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

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