There was no Us-versus-Them in Harvey’s aftermath; There were communities of all shades and backgrounds helping HPD help them!

Tom Kennedy

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS FROM ALL OVER THIS NATION can hear the loud voices of criticism from Chicago, Ferguson, Baltimore and many other places where racial incidents involving officers in blue sought to divide our country.

Now those voices are effectively muted and nearly forgotten, left in the far corners of memory banks, while new memories are made and stay in the frontal lobe of America.

Those memories – still alive and extremely vivid – depict a long, dedicated blue line of what the psychologists identify as “helps”; that is, dedicated human beings whose everyday calling is to help the people they serve.

We’re talking here about Houston police officers – and, for that matter, first responders all along the Texas Gulf Coast from Brownsville to Port Arthur.

As detailed in this issue of the Badge & Gun, the men and women in Houston blue became the recipients of love and appreciation from helping hands of all different sizes and colors. Houston was – and, we believe, remains – united as one citizenry dedicated to rescuing victims of the worst flood in the history of our country and possibly the world.

The undying effort exhibited by officers on duty 24/7 determined to “just do our job” was taken aback by the drowning death of well-respected HPD Sgt. Steve Perez. The sergeant’s devotion to duty will henceforth be known in the Department’s history as an inspirational point during probably the most dramatic storm recovery week in modern days. Perez’ last words to his family will be forever emblazoned on the mindset of every HPD officer: “We’ve got work to do.”

In reality, this mean driving his patrol car through dangerously high waters to get to his duty station. After all, he was part of what proved to be an extremely effective work force with men and women “just doing our jobs.”

After Sgt. Perez’ memorial service on Sept. 13, Gov. Greg Abbott told the Badge & Gun that “Sgt. Perez will go down in history and forever be in our minds as the epitome of the bravery and heroism common among the men and women called to serve and protect us all.”

President John F. Kennedy put it this way: “Great crisis produce great men and great deeds of courage.” He was speaking of individuals like Sgt. Steve Perez of the Houston Police Department.

And now we add to this account a special tribute to the people we serve – which altogether comprise the most diverse population of any city in America or the world – Houstonians were there for us, helping us in the most remote and water-laden communities anywhere and feeding us with every food imaginable from Subways to Smoothies and everything homemade in between while we served them and protected them from high waters and ruined homesteads.

The aftermath was a great tragedy for human beings but in so many ways a triumph for humanity and the human spirit.