Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Building Bridges for a Stronger Community

We recently created the Neighborhood Policing Division to strengthen our agency’s commitment to enhancing relationships across our county and to build on our longtime philosophy of engaging those we serve in the safety of our communities.

The various units that makeup our newest division are community-focused with the goal of addressing quality of life challenges and behavioral health-related issues through problem-oriented policing methods, meaningful partnerships, and proven training.

“Collaboration is central to the way we lead,” said Capt. Shelton, who oversees the newly established Neighborhood Policing Division. “It’s seen in our mental health programs and behavioral health training that have become models in policing across the state and nation. It’s seen in our community outreach efforts that empower our most vulnerable neighbors with the tools, skills, and support to help them overcome barriers to success.”

Capt. Shelton added, “We have been working hard to gain insight into the unique needs of each neighborhood and to keep building trust. Our work must be an extension of our core values and improve our response to our community’s public safety needs.”

The Neighborhood Policing Division will host its first virtual public safety forum on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 6 p.m., introducing the division’s mission, leaders, and units.

Register Today

We invite Harris County residents to join their neighbors for this meaningful discussion on important updates and upcoming events. You will learn about new boarding home regulations from our Boarding Home Detail and a special guest from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.

You will also hear about neighborhood contracts and a training program called Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement that promotes an agency-wide culture that prevents misconduct, reduces mistakes, and enhances deputy health and wellness.

Public safety forums are part of our ongoing efforts to keep you informed. They are also an opportunity for you to ask questions and share any concerns with deputies patrolling your block and leading these initiatives.

We know that a strong neighborhood depends on strong relationships. And we recognize the invaluable impact you have on the safety of our neighborhoods and Harris County’s future.

A safe and compassionate community requires constant attention, care, and collaboration. Thank you for your partnership and for joining us on this journey.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – We Will Never Forget

On Saturday, our nation marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It is hard to imagine the sense of profound upheaval, devastation, and uncertainty that existed on that day in the moments after the attacks. No matter how much time has passed since the tragedy, we continue to fulfill our sacred obligation to remember all those who lost their lives.

We pause to remember the 2,977 souls we lost, including the 412 first responders who perished while striving to save others.

These brave heroes rescued people trapped in the massive amount of smoke, debris, and rubble from when the Twin Towers fell, and the west side of the Pentagon partially collapsed. Many died trying to climb flights of stairs to save people. Thousands of other victims suffered severe injuries and endured grueling long-term recoveries. And there are still victims that remain unidentified. They will never be forgotten.

9/11 Commemorative Badge

As a tribute to the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, more than 765 Sheriff’s Office team members ordered commemorative badges, a strong show of support that underscores the phrase, “Never forget,” as a testament of who we are as people and as a country.

20 years later, our hearts remain with those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Our lives are forever changed.

A portion of the proceeds from these sales were donated to Tunnel to Towers, a nonprofit that offers the construction of mortgage-free smart homes for injured veterans and first responders.

At the Sheriff’s Office, we honor and support our team members who served selflessly in the U.S. Armed Forces and then answered the call to protect their local communities.

Today we unveiled a Military Service Wall to recognize the service members and veterans in our ranks who perform in various roles, sworn and civilian, and at all levels of the agency. We take great pride in our teammates who fought and sacrificed for our liberty and freedom and continue to give back to their communities as public servants.
“Seeing our military reservists and veterans work tirelessly every shift put living a life of service into perspective,” said Major Bosquez, the 701 Housing Bureau Commander. “It inspired us to create a living tribute for our heroes who walk these hallways daily to show our appreciation for their countless contributions and to bring a smile to their face.”

As team members saw the progress of the work, their pride as veterans was on full display. In passing, many jokingly made sure Deputy Leason and Detention Officer Villarreal, both veterans, got the military branch colors right and did not overlook any details.

Deputy Leason, U.S. Army Veteran

Major Bosquez says the most rewarding part of this project was bringing in veterans on our team to guide the vision and get involved in the process.

“Our very own military vets rolled up their sleeves and grabbed paintbrushes, beaming as we got closer to the big reveal.”

He added, “This was a true team effort from the start, from the planning meetings that set the foundation and the dedicated paint crew to today’s unveiling. It’s a real testament to our camaraderie and endless support for one another.”

Detention Officer Villarreal, U.S. Air Force Veteran

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – It’s OK to Talk About Suicide

Our Sheriff’s Office family understands how crucial it is for everyone to care about their mental wellbeing and the mental wellbeing of others. Our mental health can influence how we think, feel, and act. We take great pride in actively addressing behavioral health issues in Harris County through meaningful partnerships, specialized training, and model programs. And we strive every day to serve residents with compassion while prioritizing our community’s safety.

In honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we remember those we have lost and come together to raise awareness around a difficult topic. It’s a time to support those affected by suicide, share memories of loved ones, reduce the stigma through education, and encourage those in need to seek help and resources.

Get Support

We are here for those in need of behavioral health help. Having access to quick and helpful support is vital when someone is considering harming themselves.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or Chat Online

If someone you know is thinking about suicide, needs emotional support or resources, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free, confidential, 24/7 care online or by phone.

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD

If you live in Harris County, you can receive mental health services by calling The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD Helpline at 713-970-7000.

Co-Responder Program

We know just one conversation can change a life. In 2011, we joined the Houston Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) program, a transformative collaboration among area law enforcement agencies and a leading mental health organization that serves the entire region.

Our nine Crisis Intervention Response Teams, which pair a crisis intervention trained deputy with a behavioral health clinician from The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, respond to the most serious calls for service with a mental health component.

These teams also conduct follow-up investigations and respond to SWAT scenes as a resource. In August alone, there were more than 1,000 mental health-related calls for service.

Ride Along With Our Crisis Intervention Response Team

Meet Deputy Lerma, one of our first CIRT members, and his partner, Lauren, as they respond to calls for service across our county.

CIRT responds to a range of calls for service with a mental health component, including situations involving those experiencing suicidal thoughts,” said Sgt. Gomez, with our Behavioral Health Training Unit.

It’s a daily occurrence to respond to these calls. And it’s a team effort talking to people to have the best possible outcome.

Suicide in Our Community

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 10–34 years old and the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S.

CIRT: A Year in Review
  • 5,178 Calls for Service
  • 1,443 Emergency Detentions
  • 266 Jail Diversions

Our mental health and outreach programs enhance public safety, better triage calls, and reduce visits to hospital emergency rooms. Our work serves as a reminder of what we can accomplish together.

These proactive efforts around mental health go beyond any single program or training technique – they are a part of who we are and what we stand for as an agency. They are the byproduct of the countless relationships we’ve developed within our communities and our commitment to do all we can to better serve you.

Thanks for doing your part to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention. While there is no single cause for suicide, there are risk factors and warning signs we can learn. And we can stand together to build a world rooted in neighbors helping neighbors. It can save lives.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Standing Together for Safe Boarding Homes

On Thursday, we co-hosted a press conference with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office and several other key public safety partners to discuss new protections for people living in boarding homes that take effect on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

The speakers discussed the importance of safe boarding home options for seniors and our most vulnerable neighbors, regulations in unincorporated communities, enforcement plans, and community resources. The new state law, authored by state Sen. Borris Miles, creates tougher criminal sanctions for those who operate unlicensed boarding homes. It also creates criminal penalties for people who fail to report abuse or neglect in boarding homes.

In Harris County, we work as a public safety team to protect our communities. The residents we serve are part of this team. We rely on them to report abuse when they see the signs of a bad boarding home operator on their block. Watch the recorded press conference and learn more about the boarding home permitting process here. To report abuse or neglect, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or file a report online. Once a facility passes inspection, our newly formed Boarding Home Detail will review the permit applications.

Stay Informed and Be Ready Before a Storm Hits

Four years after Hurricane Harvey devastated our region, we are on high notice as meteorologists and emergency management officials monitor the tropical depression in the Caribbean that will likely move into the Gulf of Mexico and strengthen into a hurricane. Landfall is forecast for Sunday night. And while the latest forecasts predict landfall is most likely in Louisiana, our region is advised to remain vigilant.

This is the most active period of hurricane season. If you haven’t already, finalize your emergency plan, stock up on critical supplies, bookmark preparedness resources, and stay informed.

Preparedness Checklist
  • Create an Emergency Plan: Knowing what to do protects you and your loved ones. Every family is unique and has different needs. Discuss how you will stay in contact with each other, what you will do in an emergency, and where you will go if you need to evacuate. This plan is your guide and best protection against the dangers of a disaster.
  • Stay Informed: Closely monitor the local National Weather Service forecast and sign up for emergency alerts at Ready Harris. If you must get on the roads, check road conditions on Houston TranStar’s traffic map. Monitor rainfall data, bayou flooding levels, and flooded roads, parks, and low-lying areas at the Harris County Flood Warning System website.
  • Build a Kit: During emergencies, you may need to evacuate or hunker down at home for an extended period. Consider building a go-bag and shelter-in-place kit. Don’t panic buy – give yourself time to purchase disaster supplies and prepare your emergency food, water, and medical necessities.

The time to prepare is now. God bless you, and God bless the Sheriff’s Office.

Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force Recognized by U.S. Marshals Service Director Washington

The Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force is a multi-agency task force led by the U.S. Marshals Service. The purpose of the task force is to combine the efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to locate and arrest the most violent fugitives in our region. It also serves as the central point for agencies to share vital information and partner on major cases.

The regional fugitive task force was presented the 40th Director’s Honorary Award for Distinguished Group by U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald W. Washington for their efforts in implementing a strategy to address violence in the Southern District of Texas, arresting 4,891 fugitives, 168 gang members, and locating 17 missing children over a year.

Lt. Haberland, Criminal Investigations Bureau

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has been a vital member and partner agency since the inception of the task force in 1993,” said Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Arthur Fernandez. “The professionalism of the sheriff’s deputies and sergeants assigned to the task force is an example of the best resources and partnerships the USMS has across the country. The successful apprehension of the area’s most violent offenders, high profile targets, and the overall volume of cases handled by the task force is recognized by our Investigative Operations Division and the Director of the U.S. Marshals in Washington, DC.

It is a great honor to work with the dedicated men and women who truly hold the line between our community and the evil actors that choose to victimize our neighborhoods and nation,” said Lt. Haberland, who oversees the Criminal Warrants Section and our involvement in the task force. “It is an absolute privilege to be a part of such an amazing team of talented and skilled investigators. I am grateful for their service and all that we stand for as peace officers and an agency.

We have dedicated two squads to the task force, which includes nine deputies and two sergeants. These operations also result in a large amount of weapons, narcotics, and cash seized off our streets.

We’re thankful to be part of this critical partnership and joint law enforcement effort to keep our communities safe. And we’re proud of our Criminal Warrants Section and teammates serving on the task force.

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