Fertitta details Foundation’s “love story” with HPD

Tom Kennedy

As busy as he was on a recent afternoon, Tilman Fertitta took time out to tell the Badge & Gun how excited he is about this year’s police awards luncheon set for Monday, May 11 in the Imperial Ballroom at the Downtown Hyatt Regency.

Civilian Professional Employee of the Year:

Counselor Emily Burton-Blank

Administrative Specialist Maria Ponce

Assistant Police Administrator Ursula Williams

 Civilian Supervisor of the Year:

Evidence Technician Supervisor Tamara Davis

Office Service Manager Kiyomi King

Office Supervisor Harkeert Singh

Administrative Classified Employee of the Year:

Sergeant Jeffrey Cruser

Sergeant Janet Rowe

Sergeant Edward Wisenbaler

Mid-Manager of the Year:                                  

Lieutenant Kevin Grimmett

Lieutenant Patrick Plourde

Lieutenant Randall Upton

Civilian Manager of the Year:

Operations Manager Gregory Banks

Police Administrator Sheila Duncan

Administration Manager Amber Eldridge

Manager of the Year:                                         

Captain Wendy Baimbridge

Captain Larry Satterwhite

Captain David Watkins

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Senior Police Officer Terry Bratton

Sergeant Charles Johnson

Sergeant Cecil Mosqueda

Sergeant Billy Tyson

Senior Police Officer Francis Webb

The clay shoot will be the fourth major fundraiser sponsored by the Houston Police Foundation, following the always-sold-out True Blue Gala at Fertitta’s River Oaks home, the Police Week Heroes event at the Hyatt and the Badges and Bases 5k/10k and kids run in partnership with the Houston Astros.

While the Police Week Heroes luncheon is an exciting fundraising event during Police Week, there are other events scheduled throughout the week, which is designed to increase the public’s awareness of the role of officers and to honor those who have given their lives so that citizens can live in safety and peace.

 To launch the week will be the traditional ceremony at the Police Memorial on Memorial Drive at 7 p.m. Friday, May 8. May 13, a Wednesday, was designated the Day of Prayer for Police Week conducted at 1200 Travis by a group of local pastors.

 Tours of the HPD Police Academy will be conducted throughout the week from 9:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. Displays and demonstrations will be conducted by the K-9, Motorcycle, Robot, Bomb Squad, Dive Team, Helicopter, Mounted Patrol, SWAT and Police Pursuit Driving units or divisions.

Tours are scheduled via e-mail (HPD.Museum@HoustonPolice.org) and must include the approximate number of attendees, grade(s), contact person, and school district information. Your group may bring sack lunches and picnic at our facility after the tours have concluded. The tours are scheduled on a first come first serve basis.

Categories and List of Finalists for Police Week Honors

Rookie of the Year:

Police Officer Jay Guerra

Police Officer Jonathan Reed

Police Officer Matthew Watts

Instructor of the Year:

Senior Police Officer Jorge Gaytan

Sergeant Harold Lawrence Jr.

Sergeant Jeanette M. Perales

FTO of the Year:

Police Officer Virgilio Garza

Police Officer Christopher Meade

Senior Police Officer Roy Rodriguez

Patrol Officer of the Year:

Police Officer John Calhoun

Police Officer Jason Macha

Police Officer Perry Mayorga-Guerrero

Police Officer Christian Palma

Police Officer Eric Terrell

Senior Police Officer Tony Tomeo

Patrol Supervisor of the Year:

Sergeant John Beauchamp

Sergeant Gregory Pennick

Sergeant Thad Sarton

Civilian Skilled Service Employee of the Year:

Truck Driver Albert Orosco

Tactical Officer of the Year:

Police Officer Christian Dorton

Police Officer Roosevelt Johnson

Police Officer Paul Lowrey

Undercover Investigator of the Year:

Police Officer Jason Annese

Senior Police Officer Louis Caldwell

Senior Police Officer Johnny Moreno

Specialized Officer of the Year:

Senior Police Officer Monroe Gage

Senior Police Officer Steven Jackson

Sergeant Charles Johnson

CIT Officer of the Year:

Senior Police Officer Jacques Bland

Police Officer David Rose

Senior Police Officer Mark Stevens

DRT/CSO of the Year:

Officer Francisco Salazar

Police Officer Ryan Watson

Senior Police Officer Mary Young

Civilian Protective Services Employee of the Year:

Senior Police Service Officer Juan Cortina

Senior Police Telecommunicator Laura Trevino

Mobility Service Officer Elisa Vital

Senior Police Officer of the Year:

Senior Police Officer Jeffrey Anderson

Senior Police Officer Lawrence Leising

Senior Police Officer Jorge Lucero

Proactive Investigator of the Year:

Police Officer Juventino Castro

Police Officer Josue Villa

Police Officer Moises Zamora

Reactive Investigator of the Year:

Police Officer Damon Foy

Senior Police Officer Ken Nealy

Police Officer Medwin Wallace

Partners of the Year:

Police Officer John Calhoun/Police Andrea Munoz

Senior Police Officer David Nieto/Senior Police Officer Donald Miller

Senior Police Officer Gary Young/Police Officer Jose Coronado

Investigative Supervisor of the Year:                 

Sergeant Raul Cruz

Sergeant Andrew Duncan

Sergeant Frank Quinn


Technical Support Employee of the Year:

Senior Police Officer Patrick Breen

Senior Police Officer Jeffrey Cruser

Senior Police Officer Steven Lorance

Civilian Technical Employee of the Year:

Senior Communication Specialist Cynthia Cuellar

Community Service Inspector Jason Foster

Offset Print Operator Rudy Rodriguez

Civilian Administrative/Para Professional:

Administrative Associate Diem Thuy Bui-Ngoc

Data Entry Operator Katherine Dorsey

Senior Customer Service Clerk Andreana Mims

What was once a jammed-packed ceremony at Fertitta’s Aquarium Restaurant involving only the award nominees and their families has turned into a major fundraiser for the Houston Police Foundation – a non-profit for which this great Houston businessman has served as board chairman since 2007.

“I loved it when Chief (Harold) Hurtt asked me to get involved six, seven or eight years ago,” Fertitta recalled. “I tried to talk him out of it because it would take a lot of time.

“But now I would say that of all the non-profits and other community organizations I’m a part of that the police foundation is something I love doing more than anything else. When you realize the benefits it brings for police officers to make Houston a safer place, it’s easy to see why the time is well spent.

“I know the importance of having a safe city for the community and visitors.  A first-class police department is essential in making that happen.  I love Houston and appreciate what our police officers do each day and want to ensure they have the best equipment and technology in order for them to perform their job every day.”

 As you would expect, the individual who runs businesses that generate in excess of one billion dollars annually knows the numbers and what they mean. He quickly pointed out that the HPD budget requires 94 percent of its dollars for personnel.

 “That doesn’t leave a lot of money to purchase some of the latest technology and equipment that is needed for the guys who are out there front and center every day,” Fertitta said, making it clear the foundation’s vision and where it puts its money. “We’ve noticed that there’s so many important divisions of the department – the patrolmen who have to run calls and stop vehicles.

“A lot of times they know what they’re walking into in a normal domestic call or the normal stop of a car on the road. But a lot of times they never know what they’re facing. The everyday guy who runs the calls are the heroes.”

The foundation puts its money where those heroes are. In its history it has raised $4.5 million for what Fertitta calls “every kind of piece of equipment you can have from dogs to guns to vests and bikes.”

There are plenty of examples, both recently and in the past few years. And they are:

·         A Reality Mapping System for one of the helicopters.  The system overlays streets on the video that HPD is recording from the helicopter during a pursuit or searching for suspects,

  • Segway Patrollers which are used in areas which displays a more visible and obvious security presence.
  • Handheld Mini Scanners (X-ray system) which produces a real time image of a scan target that assists in detecting narcotics, US currency, contraband and explosives in hard to reach areas, such as vehicle dashboard, seats, door panels, and other areas not accessible with a large backscatter van.
  • Bicycles for the North Division and Special Operations Division in Downtown and for special large-scale events.
  • Tactical Body Armor
  • Surveillance equipment
  • Laser Scanners for mapping crime scenes and crash investigations
  • Horse Trailers for Mounted Patrol
  • Truck, trailer and Gator for the Homeless Outreach Team for accessing homeless encampments along the bayous in order to get services and help for that community.

One might ask: How does the foundation pay for all these things?

Again the foundation board chairman steps up to the plate, making obvious the love he has for this job.

“We have that annual event at my house,” Fertitta said. “I love doing that. It’s a great event and I love being a part of it.” That’s traditionally held every fall just as the Police Week event happens every May.

This year Fertitta singled out Chevron for its special sponsorship of the Police Week awards luncheon that he believes will lead to a fund-raising total of more than $200,000.

“This year we have a new exciting event we think is going to do very well,” he said, referring to The True Blue Clay Shoot.