Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Happy Independence Day!

The Fourth of July brings thoughts of a family get-together and celebrating our great nation. As we take in this year’s Independence Day festivities at home, they may feel and look different, but it’s still a time to reflect on the meaning of this holiday. For many, it represents the birth of our nation, equality, democracy, and community. It is a picture of who we are and what we strive to become.

As issues of systemic racial and economic inequality remain at the forefront, we understand that some of our neighbors may be struggling to make sense of what the Fourth of July means to them. We are in this together. We must build momentum toward a more effective, equitable, and thoughtful approach to law enforcement, and continue conversations on systemic issues as a community.

Safety First

As we begin to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day, I want to remind all of our residents to celebrate responsibly.

You can do your part by remembering the following:

  1. Help Stop the Spread: As the Fourth of July meets the current surge of COVID-19 cases in our region, the place you are safest is at home. As you gear up to celebrate the holiday this weekend with your household and venture out to pick up groceries or supplies yourself, make sure you practice social distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently.
  2. Don’t Drink and Drive: Drink responsibly and use designated drivers or ridesharing services. Report drunk drivers to law enforcement officials immediately.
  3. Celebratory Gunfire is Dangerous: It’s illegal and dangerous, and what goes up, must come down. Don’t risk injuring someone, killing someone, or damaging property.
  4. Remember Pets: Please consider bringing your pets indoors, as many pets are frightened of fireworks and may try to escape your yard to run from all the noise.
  5. Practice Water Safety: Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in young children. You can significantly reduce this risk by following a few tips from the Judah Brown Project, which is led by HCSO Reserve Deputy Mark Brown:
    • Learn to Swim: Swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning, but constant, careful supervision is still important.
    • Supervise: Designate a responsible adult to watch young children playing in or around water.
    • Learn CPR: In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
    • Buddy System: Always swim with a buddy, and select a swimming site that has lifeguards when possible.

Help Stop the Spread

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Harris County at an alarming rate, we need to remain vigilant and protect ourselves and loved ones. Getting past this pandemic is a shared responsibility, and I’d encourage you to celebrate responsibly by staying home, wearing face masks when venturing out in public, and practicing social distancing.

Harris County Public Health encourages residents to get tested for the virus. Click here for more information about free testing. Please remember if you need help or advice dealing with the pandemic, visit readyharris.org or call 211. There are programs in place to assist with basic needs such as housing, food, and healthcare.

The Harris County Commissioners Court extended its disaster declaration through August 26, extending the mandatory mask order. The mask order mandates that businesses require patrons to cover their faces.

We all must have a heightened sense of awareness. The safety of our communities is a collaborative effort between our communities and law enforcement agencies. We are encouraging everyone to celebrate safely and to report anything out of the ordinary to law enforcement.

I’m optimistic this month will bring new opportunities for all of us. Let’s continue to work together and stay strong. Have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday weekend. God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Stronger Together!

Please join me in congratulating and welcoming 47 new deputies to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. After six months of tireless dedication in our Basic Peace Officer Course (BPOC) training, their hard work, and sacrifice are paying off. Class B2-2019 celebrated their graduation last Tuesday, and earlier this year they had a badge pinning ceremony.

Today, we also welcome 21 new sworn-in detention officers who have worked hard and completed the Basic County Corrections Course (BCCC) at our academy. The new teammates are eager to serve their community. I wish them the best as they start their next chapter in their careers, and hope their journeys are fulfilling and safe. I’m extremely proud of all our new teammates, and welcome them to the HCSO family!

My teammates responded to some tragic fatal crashes last weekend. On Sunday, a cyclist was struck and killed by a Dodge pickup truck who failed to stop and render aid. It’s heartbreaking to see a lifeless body and know that the driver responsible fled the scene. If you have any information please contact 713-221-6000.

Traffic deaths involving pedestrians/cyclists are far too frequent in our region. We as a community share a responsibility to avoid these tragedies. Avoid speeding and distractions while driving, do not drink and drive, and stay safe by always crossing the street at designated crosswalks. Let’s work together and do our best to avoid tragic accidents that can be prevented.

Staying alert

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb across the state, we need to stay vigilant and protect ourselves. Getting past this virus is a shared responsibility, please stay home if at all possible, wear face masks, and practice social distancing.

Please stay home if you are sick. If you want to get tested click here or call 832-927-7575. The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is seeking residents who had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and are now fully recovered, with no symptoms for at least 28 days to help others in their recovery. Click here to learn more and see if you meet the qualifications to donate.

If you need assistance dealing with the virus please visit readyharris.org. There are programs to help with basic needs including housing, food, and healthcare. Dial 211 for more information.

Let’s end the week on a high note and give our K9 Unit a follow on social media! They are an integral part of our agency and they help keep you safe. Click on the video below to learn more about our K9 Unit. Click here to follow them on Twitter and here for Instagram and have a pawsome weekend!

To all of our readers, thank you for pausing every week to read our newsletter. I appreciate all of your support for our agency as we continue to serve and protect you and your families. Please remember that we are stronger together. Stay safe and stay strong. God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – In Loving Memory of Deputy Juan Menchaca

It is with deep regret that this week we said goodbye to two team members, Deputy Juan Menchaca Jr., 70, and Detention Officer Joel Garcia. D.O. Garcia, 49, passed away after a long battle with an illness. He was a Katy High School graduate and served our country in the U.S. Air Force. He later served with us for 17 years.

Our brother and teammate, Deputy Juan Menchaca, died on Saturday after a courageous battle against COVID-19. He is survived by his wife, Melissa, and seven adult children. He is the second Sheriff’s Office employee to die after contracting coronavirus. Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski died of the virus on May 6.

Deputy Menchaca began his law enforcement career at Nacogdoches Police Department. He joined our Harris County Sheriff’s Office family back in 2006 and was most recently assigned to the courts’ division. He was a beloved member of our agency, and he will be terribly missed by all of us who had the honor of knowing him.

Deputy Menchaca was born to protect and serve. He received an accommodation in June 2019 for helping save a toddler. On November 13, 2018, he observed Deputy Neomi Roberts administering aid to a 2-year-old boy and responded to assist. Due to the quick actions of Deputy Roberts and Deputy Menchaca they were able to free the obstruction that was blocking the child’s airway. The child was able to breathe again before losing consciousness.

He was looking forward to retiring and spending quiet time in the country. Deputy Menchaca had a special way of putting people at ease. He listened. He showed genuine compassion to everyone he encountered. He loved his community, and his community loved him back.

Please continue to pray for the families of Deputy Menchaca, and Detention Officer Joel Garcia, during this tremendously sad and difficult time. Donations for Deputy Juan Mencheca’s family and Detention Officer Joel Garcia’s family may be made in their names to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Benevolence Association.

We will miss them and forever keep them and their families in our hearts. Your brothers and sisters in blue have the watch from here.

We are here to help you

Earlier this week our deputies responded to the 6600 block of Rosebrook after they were informed by a witness of a 17-year-old male found hanging from a tree in the playground area. I personally went to this scene. While this is an apparent suicide, our investigators launched a full investigation from the get-go. An autopsy is pending. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

We need to continue to raise awareness about suicide prevention. This year alone, our Crime Scene Investigators have responded to 76 suicides, 26 of them by hanging.

If you are thinking of harming yourself, please seek help. Your life matters. Please dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD at 833-251-7544. You can also call 713-221-6000 or 911 if it’s an emergency. Please remember that you are not alone, we are here for you.

Stay safe

Tomorrow marks the first day of summer, and it’s going to be a hot couple of months! That’s why we created a vehicle reminder to help you check your backseat if you have children or pets. Click here to download the flyer, print it, and have a safe and happy summer!

With the rise of COVID-19 cases in the last couple of days, we should keep doing everything in our power to stop the spread. Getting past this virus is a shared responsibility. Practice social distancing whenever you can, wash your hands, cover your face with a mask, and help us flatten the curve.

The Harris County Public Health encourages residents to get tested for the virus. Click here for more information about free testing. Please remember if you need help or advice dealing with the pandemic, visit readyharris.org. If you don’t have internet access please call 211. There are programs in place to assist with basic needs including housing, food, and healthcare.

I wish everyone a safe and fun Father’s Day weekend! To all the dads out there, may your day be filled with happiness. To all of our residents, I appreciate all of your support for our agency as we continue to serve and protect you and your families. Let’s continue to work together and stay strong. God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Working Together for a Better Future

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is fully committed to ensuring that every resident of our community is treated with dignity and respect, even if they are suspected of committing a crime. We hold the public’s trust as sacred, and we will always strive to be worthy of that trust.

While law enforcement has made significant strides in many areas, George Floyd’s death is the latest reminder that much work remains to be done. We need smart, well-trained law enforcement officers to continue to investigate serious crimes and prevent others from becoming victims. I strongly support evidence-based programs that help lift all communities and allow them to expand harm-reduction opportunities.

Preventing violent crime is a serious business, and decisions made today can have serious unintended consequences. Let’s also not forget the dangers to deputies and the countless encounters handled successfully. We must support and respect the hard work of our law enforcement professionals.

I’m putting in the work to review how our agency can do better. We prohibit the use of chokeholds, but we’re going to make it even more clear in the policy. We will immediately implement a Duty to Report policy. We will increase audits of our body-worn cameras and Taser use.

The time to act is now. I will also continue to advocate for law enforcement officers to be paid much better, to attract the best-qualified individuals to our profession. We must build momentum toward a more effective, equitable, and thoughtful approach to law enforcement. We are in this together.

Stay Vigilant

Last week my teammates responded to a fatal crash where a 5-year-old died. She was not restrained in an appropriate booster seat. This is heartbreaking because it could have been prevented. I implore you to please make sure everyone in the car is buckled up and your children are in their car seats.

Keeping our community safe is our priority. Inspect your child’s car seat to make sure it’s properly installed. SAFE KIDS Greater Houston is offering a virtual car seat check. Call 832-822-2277 or click here for more information. Check out some safety tips from Sgt. Cabrera and please buckle up and secure your children in the appropriate car seat.

Unfortunately, this week our Marine Unit found the body of a teenager who drowned while swimming in the San Jacinto River. Please remember to practice proper water safety. Avoid swimming in rivers because they have powerful, unpredictable currents. Make sure to have a person in charge of paying attention to everyone in the water, use a life jacket, take swimming lessons, and learn CPR. Red Cross offers an online CPR certification, for more information please click here.

As the county reopens and we ease back into our routines, we need to stay vigilant because the virus is still in our community. The Harris County Public Health encourages residents to take advantage of the free testing. They have new mobile locations to better serve you. Click here to schedule a test or call 832-927-7575.

Hurricane Season is here and we encourage residents who may need additional assistance responding to emergency conditions to register with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR). Click here to register or call 2-1-1. During an emergency, it’s also important to stay informed, click here to register to get notified of any potential hazards.

HCSO’s Program Gets National Award

Our Clinician and Officer Remote Evaluation (CORE) Program has been recognized with an Achievement Award in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

Launched in 2017 with an eye toward the future, our CORE program has been a game-changer. The program offers direct access to a master’s level mental health clinician from the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, via teleconferencing technology through an iPad. This allows patrol deputies to better assess mental health consumers out in the field in an attempt to reduce transports and hospitalizations.

To our knowledge, we were the first law enforcement agency in the nation to pilot a telepsychiatry program for patrol deputies. That program evolved into CORE that uses masters-level clinicians instead of psychiatrists.

Click here to watch a video of our CORE program. Please remember, if you are in a mental health crisis, know that you’re not alone. Help is always available. Call 911 or 713-221-6000.

Thank you to all of our readers who pause every week to see what our agency is doing for the residents of our county. We value your support. Let’s end the week on a high note. Stay positive regardless of what we are going through and support one another. Let’s count our blessings, and keep moving forward. We are in this together. God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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