Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke from his heart in a May 9 tribute as he shared with his fellow mourners the everlasting proof of the never-say-die grit of Fox Tactical Flight Officer Jason Knox.
The often-emotional chief told the socially distanced audience members about the Good Lord, a godly police officer and God’s will in Jason’s service to Houstonians.
Knox, 35, was involved in a Fox accident last July in which the helicopter overturned on earthly impact. Acevedo recounted how Jason, whose goal was to become a Fox helicopter pilot for the Houston Police Department, was unfazed.
Jason and the Good Lord
“When you have a goal,” Acevedo attested, “and the Good Lord puts in your mind that this is a calling – it wasn’t a paycheck for Jason; it was a mission.
“So he got up and didn’t quit. He got back in the saddle. It was perseverance of the never-quit spirit. Resilience!”
Then the chief made it clear to those present in Houston’s First Baptist Church that the Lord was not through with Jason after that accident; He still had at least two more missions for him to save the lives of two Houston firefighters and a Harris County deputy sheriff.
The scenes unfolded last fall during Tropical Storm Imelda rescue operations. High waters overtook some first responders. One of them was in water over his head. Acevedo explained:
“We had a deputy that had been swept away. He was clinging to life, barely hanging on. We were losing hope. And all of a sudden Jason Michael Knox, from whatever feet he was at, spotted that deputy, and we were able to bring in boats to rescue him, and he saved a life between July of 2019 and September 2019 because God wasn’t done with him.
“The next day you all remember we had flooding all over Houston. One of the HFD boats ended up losing power. One firefighter was hanging onto a signpost and the other was on top of a roof. And who came again in the middle of the night from that altitude but Jason Knox, Fox and the HPD!”
The chief then said, “God has a plan for each and every one of us and only God knows when your work on earth in the flesh is done.”
God’s plan was for Jason to play a prominent role in saving three lives. An April 1 ceremony was planned to present a Life-Saving Award to Tactical Flight Officer Knox but the social-distancing practices in place due to the Coronavirus effectively postponed the ceremony.
Not only will that honor be bestowed on Jason Knox posthumously but the new HPD helicopter will be named for him. In addition, Badge No. 2374 will never be used unless his son Cooper or daughter Eliza decides to follow in the footsteps of Jason the father and Mike Knox the grandfather – who is now serving as a Houston City Council member.
The eight-year officer was scheduled to be trained as an HPD helicopter pilot – his ultimate career goal – in August. Heretofore, as a tactical flight officer he was the eyes in the air for the officers on the ground below.
Special attention focused on Knox’ passion for restoring Houston patrol cars. He often stressed to the Badge & Gun that he fully intended to restore one from each of at least five decades. He achieved the restoration of the 1980s and 1990s vehicles. He wore a vintage uniform in special appearances in the community, proudly standing beside one of his vintage cruisers, taking care to explain the finer points experienced by officers from an earlier era.
The Extended Family
“His love for this department extended to the past, to the present and to the future,” the chief said in his special tribute. “He always had an eye to all three.”
Then Acevedo asked Officer Ryan Sandoval to stand up and be recognized. Knox’s fellow cadet classmate was proudly wearing Knox’s vintage light blue uniform shirt from earlier times – before today’s navy blue uniforms became an HPD staple.
The police chief, as always, stressed the Houston Police Department as being an extended family, one that often reaches its open arms to other first responders. He used as an example the dreadful experience of learning of Knox’s death in a helicopter crash into an apartment complex office about 2 a.m. Saturday, May 2. The helicopter pilot, Chase Cormier.
The memorial service also paid tribute to the bravery of Cormier among those present who prayed for his continued recovery. He suffered many broken bones and vertebrae. He was in serious condition at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
Knox was the 116th Houston officer to give his life in the line of duty.
The chief described the scene.
“I saw HFD Engine 74 and Medic 74 and later Engine 84 showed up and I saw them so frantically and here was fuel everywhere. I was saying to myself, ‘You were supposed to put foam on the fuel first.’
“But the other lesson you want to teach is: COURAGE in the Houston first responders family runs strong and it runs deep!
“They didn’t worry about the foam. They didn’t worry about anything! They saw their brothers in Chase and in Jason needing help and they put it on the line again to show that we’ve got the best first responder community in the nation right here!”
He recognized Engine 74 and Medic 74. “Let’s give them a big hand. They’re our heroes.”
Seventy-nine Fox and LifeFlight showed up. Investigation of the gunfire at the scene of the deadly crash continued amid the rescue operation. “They didn’t turn around, they didn’t hide, they finished the mission.
“And again, it was God and it was Jason showing the world what Houston’s all about.”
Acevedo, HPD Chaplain Vincent Johnson and each of the speakers who eulogized Jason Knox stressed that the family of Houston Blue would forever be there for the Knox immediate family, wife Kiera Knox, son Cooper and daughter Eliza, as well as Councilman Mike Knox and wife Helen, the officer’s parents.
The chief stressed “two things” – the value of the HPD extended family and the fact that the memory of a brave officer will never be forgotten.
“God could have taken him any way (He wanted). He took him when he was doing what he loved most and that was saving lives and serving others selflessly, not worried about self but worried about that stranger.
HPD ‘Uncles, Aunts’
“We will be pests,” he told the family. “We will be family in the good times and the bad times. You are not going to be alone. You’ve got uncles and aunts, probably more than you want. We will honor Jason next year in Washington, Austin and here.”
The chief referred to the annual memorial ceremonies during Police Week when every law enforcement officer in history who gave his or her life in the line of duty is officially remembered. This year there was no Police Week due to the virus.
“Secondly,” Acevedo said, “Badge No. 2374 will never be used again. . . unless for another Knox. It runs in the genes on both sides.”
He announced that State Sen. John Whitmire arranged for a state grant to pay for a B3 helicopter for HPD – to be delivered “in the next six months.”
“I don’t know the number but it will be named for Jason Michael Knox,” the chief said, “as a reminder that promises that are made are promises that need to be kept.”