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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