Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – In Loving Memory of Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski

It is with deep regret that this week we say goodbye to our brother and teammate, Sergeant Raymond Scholwinski. He passed away Wednesday after a courageous battle against coronavirus. Sgt. Scholwinski began his service with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy in 1979 and then went on to serve as a full-time officer for 26 years. His most recent assignment was as the day watch Contract Sergeant in District 2.

Sgt. Scholwinski represented the best of our HCSO family. Whether he was on patrol, making a neighborhood association presentation, or in the field during hurricanes, tropical storms, and other disasters, Ray consistently delivered for our residents.

With heavy hearts this morning Sgt. Scholwinski was escorted from Memorial Hermann Hospital in The Woodlands to a funeral home in Houston. Click here to see the procession. Please keep Sgt. Scholwinski’s family in your prayers during this tremendously sad and difficult time.

Funeral services for Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski have been set for Thursday, May 14 at First Assembly of God in Humble. A public visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., with social distancing enforced. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Admission into the sanctuary will be strictly limited to ensure proper social distancing. Additional details will be forthcoming next week. May he rest in peace. E.O.W. 05/06/2020.

Today, we welcome 47 new deputies to our family. After 6 months of Basic Peace Officer Course (B.P.O.C.) training, their hard work, and sacrifice are paying off. Class B2-2019 had a badge pinning ceremony where they were sworn-in as deputies. The graduation is scheduled for June 23 at 6 p.m. at the First Humble Assembly Church. Let’s congratulate them and wish them the best as they start their next chapter in their careers. Click here to watch the badge pinning ceremony.

Our men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office swore an oath to protect the residents of this county. We carry out this mission no matter the circumstances. This week I want to honor and thank our detention staff, and our medical personnel as we celebrate National Correctional Officers and Employees Week and National Nurses Week. A week when we celebrate the heroes that work tirelessly to keep our Harris County Jail going during these difficult times. Your work is appreciated, and it does not go unnoticed. I’m incredibly proud to work with a team of devoted and dedicated public servants. You’re the everyday heroes!

Stay Safe

Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is still an invisible enemy that we need to keep fighting. We all play an important role to stop the spread. Keep following the recommendations to protect yourself against the virus. If you want to get tested click here or call 832-927-7575 to schedule an appointment.

The time to prepare is now! This week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and we should all make sure we are ready. Hurricane season begins in June and runs until November. The National Weather Service recommends making a plan, building an emergency kit, getting an insurance checkup, and preparing our homes. Click here for more tips and information.

It is only together that we will emerge from this tough time. We must remain strong and hopeful. I want to thank all of you for your continued support of our agency. God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Let’s Stay Strong!

As we welcome a new month, we should be grateful for all of our blessings and keep moving forward. The battle against coronavirus continues and we should keep doing everything in our power to stop the spread.

National Water Safety Month

May is National Water Safety Month, and I want to ensure everyone practices proper water safety at all times. This week my teammates responded to two different scenes where two children — a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old — drowned because they were left unattended.

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4. Please help us do everything to prevent these tragedies. You can significantly reduce the risk by following a few tips, click here to watch a water safety video I filmed last year. You can also try to prevent these types of tragedies by following some tips from Safe Kids Worldwide:

  • Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, and kiddie pools immediately after use.
  • Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning.
  • Install fences around home pools.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a life.

Help Stop the Spread

Starting today some businesses — including retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls — begin partial reopening in phase one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas. Now more than ever we need to continue our fight against the virus.

While some of you might be going back to work, there are simple things you can still do to keep yourself, colleagues and family protected: Make sure your workplace is clean; Stay 6 feet away from others; Wash your hands frequently, and use a face covering.

Please stay home if you are sick. If you want to get tested click here or call 832-927-7575. The Texas Division of Emergency created an interactive map where you can find your nearest testing locations, click here for more information.

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.

COVID-19 Report

The number of Harris County Sheriff’s Office employees diagnosed with coronavirus has reached 238, including 211 who work in the jail. There are currently 402 deputies, detention officers, and support staff on quarantine. As of Friday, 289 previously quarantined employees have returned to duty, including 70 who had tested positive for the virus. Thirteen Sheriff’s Office employees are currently hospitalized because of the virus.

A recent expansion of testing – which now includes inmates who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 but are believed to have been exposed to the virus – has helped identify 411 infected inmates. This number includes 92 inmates who previously tested positive for coronavirus and have now recovered and 145 inmates who tested positive but have no symptoms.

You Are Not Alone

This month we also celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. One of my priorities is caring for those suffering from a mental health issue. For more information about our mental health programs please visit http://www.harriscountycit.org/. Click here to read our 2019 Annual Report. 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.

Here are some tips from the World Health Organization for coping with stress during the pandemic:

  • It is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared, or angry during a crisis. Talking to people you trust can help. Contact your friends and family.
  • If you must stay at home, maintain a healthy lifestyle – including proper diet, sleep, and exercise.
  • Don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone.
  • Draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to manage previous life’s adversities.

As we work to free ourselves from the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to thank our residents for the sacrifices and commitment to help flatten the curve. I’m optimistic this month will bring new opportunities for all of us. 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 – We are in this Together!

As our county battles the COVID-19 pandemic, we prioritize our third core value, to protect our residents with honor and courage. Unfortunately, we are not immune. As of Friday, 181 teammates — including 163 who work in the Harris County Jail — tested positive for coronavirus. And as of Friday, 129 inmates in the jail have tested positive for COVID-19.

I’m thankful 39 employees who previously tested positive for the virus, have recovered, and are now back on duty. I keep praying for the recovery of our eight teammates currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

It has been a difficult week. My teammates and I are heartbroken. We had to say goodbye to two members of our family. We lost retired reserve Lt. Tom Morgan and we also lost a beloved patrol deputy.

World War II veteran Lt. Morgan passed away from natural causes on Tuesday, April 21, at the age of 99. He retired as Texas’ oldest certified lawman at the age of 98. Please keep the Morgan family in your thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.

We are also extremely sad to report the passing of a patrol deputy who took his own life. He was a 36-year-old and served our residents for five years. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. May he rest in peace.

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 activated the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line 833-251-7544 to help our community. Call 713-221-6000 or 911 if it’s an emergency.

This week our HCSO Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) was expanded by four deputies, bringing our total to 10. We will now have a team assigned to each of our five patrol districts. Our Homeless Outreach Team helps educate the homeless and takes other steps to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Click here to watch a video of our Homeless Outreach Team helping our community during the pandemic.

Beginning this Saturday, April 25, our District 2, located in northeast Harris County, will have a District Tactical Unit (DTU) aimed at disrupting, dismantling, and apprehending violent criminal offenders.

Protect Yourself

Harris County, we made it through another week. Now more than ever, we need to be united as a community and make a difference.

On Wednesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed a new order requiring all residents over the age of 10 to wear a face-covering when out in public. It takes effect Monday, April 27, and remains in effect for 30 days. For more information about the order please click here. Our agency is taking an educational approach to the order, urging residents to voluntarily comply. Our goal is to keep our residents safe. Patrol deputies are being given a few extra masks to offer to residents they meet without one.

The Harris County Public Health encourages residents to get tested for COVID-19 if you feel you have it or have been in contact with someone who tested positive. Click here for more information. HCPH also recommends to keep enforcing the following steps to protect ourselves against the virus:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask
  • Practice social distancing
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects
  • Stay home when you feel sick
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

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

Stay Alert and Safe

In the last few days, my team has seen far too many car accidents. This last week two children — a one-year-old and a four-year-old — lost their lives in separate car crashes because they weren’t in their child safety seats. Car seats save lives and prevent injuries. Please 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 for more information. I implore all of our residents to slow down, buckle up, and don’t drink and drive. Please be safe!

Harris County, we are resilient and we will get through this together. Let’s count our blessings, and keep moving forward. God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – We WILL Get Through This

Our men and women of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are on the front lines of this pandemic carrying out our oath to fight crime and serve every Harris County resident. As we battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to do our part; please do yours and we will get through this together.

This week our hearts are heavy as we vow to never forget retired HCSO Deputy Hilbert Nunez, 57, who passed away due to COVID-19. He retired in April 2017 after 34 years of service. Our condolences go out to his family. May he rest in peace.

As of Friday, 115 employees have tested positive for the virus, with 100 of the positive test results being among those who work in the Harris County Jail. Thankfully, 137 previously quarantined employees – including 11 who previously tested positive for the virus – are now healthy and have returned to duty.

Five of our teammates are currently in the hospital, including Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski. Help us to continue praying for their prompt recovery as they battle the virus.

Seventy-one inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.

We’re working hard to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially among our 2,000-plus employees who work in the jail. I’m forever thankful to our Harris County Jail teammates for their commitment and service. Click here to read the measures taken in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 among our staff and inmates.

Resources for You

It’s important to remember that the virus doesn’t move – people move it. Please practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, disinfect surfaces, and stay home if you can. If you need to go out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises wearing simple cloth face coverings in public to help slow the spread of the virus while conducting essential activities.

The fight against the virus requires some sacrifices and now more than ever we need to take care of our mental and physical health. According to the World Health Organization here are tips on how to stay active at home during the pandemic:

  • Reduce long periods of time spent sitting
  • Set up a daily routine to be active
  • If you go for a walk or bicycle ride practice social distancing
  • Do not exercise if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing

It’s important to take care of our mental health. The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD activated the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line 833-251-7544 to help our community. If you are in a mental health crisis, help is always available. Call 911 or 713-221-6000.

Remember that you are not alone, we are in this together. If you need help or advice dealing with COVID-19 please visit readyharris.org. There are resources available to help you during this time. If you are showing symptoms of illness related to the virus — such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath — please click here for more information or call 832-927-7575 if you don’t have access to the internet.

The community keeps coming together in these trying times. We have received multiple donations — of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies — to protect our deputies, correction officers, medical staff and inmates during the pandemic. To our community members, I’m extremely grateful for your generosity and support. An act of kindness during a stressful time can make an enormous impact.

Even though we are a bit farther apart these days — we will get through this. We have seen adversity before, and I know we will persevere. This is what makes us strong. I hope all of our residents have a good weekend, keep the faith, and stay positive. God bless you, and God bless the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

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