Law enforcement support group presents first-ever ‘Beyond the Badge’ award to HPOU’s Joe Gamaldi

Tom Kennedy

A citizens’ law enforcement advocacy group presented its first award to a police officer who goes the extra mile to enhance community relationships to HPOU President Joe Gamaldi.

The “Beyond the Badge” award was presented by Caps4Cops founder and executive director Josh Ingram at the March general membership meeting.

Ingram said the words spoken by Gamaldi right after the Jan. 28 southeast Houston drug raid that killed two suspects and injured five officers “should have come from Chief Acevedo.” Ingram’s group praised Gamaldi for his courage stance with the executive director stating that “what Joe Gamaldi said about the targets on the backs of all police officers represented “what a lot of police officers think and believe but are afraid to say.

“We appreciated his courage to honestly put his career on the line to take the defense that he believed needed to be taken.”

Although now in controversy, the initial aftermath of the raid prompted the HPOU president to speak out against those in the community who consider law enforcement officers and police an enemy.

“We are sick and tired of having targets on our backs,” Gamaldi said. “We are sick and tired of having dirtbags trying to take our lives when all we are trying to do is protect this community, and protect our families. Enough is enough.”

Alongside criticism propounded from some police critics, Gamaldi and HPD also received overwhelming support from other law enforcement agencies, state and federal leaders and local sports heroes – all of whom showed their love and support for officers.

Ingram founded Caps4Cops last Fourth of July when he was in Hermann Park for the annual celebration and witnessed an endless number of beer bottles being uncapped with the caps hitting the ground as “waste” that could be recycled with positive effects.

The former Harris County jailer and Army veteran vowed to set up a mechanism for generating funds from recycled bottle caps to be used to improve community understanding and support for law enforcement officers. He told the Badge & Gun that at first “people laughed” but soon got with the program. The group now receives caps from eight bars in the Houston/Spring area as well as mailed-in boxes of them from sources throughout the nation. He said one of these cap benefactors is Disney World.

“We supply buckets to bars in Spring and Houston,” he explained. “People from all over the country mail in their caps. We’ve been endorsed by several different companies. We use the money to educate the community about police.”

One key immediate goal is to recognize officers “who are selfless and who are going the extra mile to bridge the gap and end the gap between the citizens and the police.

“We are planning to issue many of these awards in the coming months and we believe the best way to state our purpose was to name Joe Gamaldi as our first award recipient.

“It (the award) had nothing to do with the raid itself. Regardless of what happened that night the statements that Joe made were still true and needed to be said for law enforcement.”

Policing has been – and will undoubtedly continue to be – a big part of Ingram’s life. He is currently enrolled in the UH-Downtown Police Academy and plans to make law enforcement his career.

He pointed out that one pound of beer bottle caps earns 40 cents from a local recycling center. Plastic caps from soft drink bottles earn less from a recycling facility with the specialty for recycling plastic. This year’s goal for the group is 1 million caps, which would generate approximately $63,000, Ingram said, “if my math is correct.”

He said Caps4Cops got support from two vendors at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, saying he hopes to get total support from HLSR in 2020.