Officer Nghiep Bui jokes around with his fellow HPD officers on a regular basis. So he wasn’t taking seriously the phone call and text he received from two wise-guy friends who heard his name called at a Union meeting.
They took turns telling Bui that he had won $2,000, his name having been drawn among a number of officers who had helped recruit and mentor police cadets. The city awards $1,000 when a police mentor produces a cadet and another $1,000 when the cadet graduates the academy. This year the Union kicked in another $2,000 in a special drawing of the names of all of the latest mentors.
The name out of the hat at the December general membership meeting was Nghiep Bui. Quickly hearing the news, Officer Nicholas Vo (Special Victims) called to prompt his friend Bui that the Union had a check for him.
“This guy is always joking around,” Bui recalled with a laugh. “I usually go to the Union meeting and have lunch but I couldn’t make it that day. I was driving at the time. He is a good, good friend.”
“They just called your name,” Vo said from the Union luncheon, “You won $2,000!”
Bui had a laugh but kept driving. Then another close friend, Officer Puan Le (Traffic Enforcement), texted him with the same information. Bui was still doubtful but had more reasons to check things out. The news became real when HPOU President Joe Gamaldi called to congratulate him and tell him officially to come by and pick up the check.
In an interview, Bui expressed enthusiasm about his HPD experience, excited to report that there are about 300 Vietnamese men and women who wear Houston blue. “HPD has one of the largest groups of Vietnameseofficers – I believe more than anywhere in the world,” Bui dared to say.
He’s been on the force 10 years, working at Westside and in his current position at the Emergency Communications Center. At the center he became acquainted with a dispatcher, Greg Xavier.
“We talked,” Bui recalled, detailing his HPD pitch. “Give it a shot, I told him. You’re still young. You have a good chance of getting in (the academy). It’s a good job, a stable job and makes a lot more money than what you do.”
Xavier applied and was accepted!
“I helped him at the time he was the academy,” the HPD mentor explained. “I kept him motivated: ‘Stay in there; don’t give up.’ When I told him when he got through he would have a plum job that he could put his heart and soul into and get it done once you finish, you get your badge and get to work.”
Bui was on the city’s list of HPD mentors. He received $1,000 for recruiting Cadet Xavier and another $1,000 when the cadet became Officer Xavier, which happened in HPD’s latest graduating class.
“He’s very excited,” Bui reported. “He’s at South Central. Has been here over a month. I told him to ‘listen to your trainer, keep your mouth hushed, do what you’re supposed to do and what you’re required to do and get ‘er done.’ ”
Bui detailed his latest advice to the new officer:
“Enjoy doing it (your duty). I told him to try to apply as much of what he learned at the academy. After Dispatch he’s now in a real-life situation. Stay calm, listen to people, follow the policy and, most important, go home at the end of the day.
“I told him not to escalate things out there. De-escalation is the key to being a good police officer. You’re responding to a scene that’s overheated. There is no need to put fuel in a fire that is already burning.”
Bui graduated from Pearland High School before he attended Houston Community College and the University of Houston at Clear Lake. He married his high school sweetheart, Honglien Vo. The couple has two children, Hailey, 14, and Jeffery, 13.
This background information leads us to the big question: How did he spend the $2,000?
“I took the family on vacation!” Bui said, smiling widely. “We went to Universal Studios and Disneyland. I didn’t have to put anything on the credit cards.”