When Craig Bellamy was promoted to become an HPD captain in May he very likely didn’t realize he would have to “scramble” in his new assignment AT the South Gessner Division.
Nor did it dawn on him that he would be sleeping on the job.
And, golly, who would have thought that he would be subject to “visiting hours” on premises in order to see his wife and three young children?
But, then, he also didn’t realize that the “highlight” of his anniversary celebration with his wife Crysi was a shooting that required his immediate attention.
A Real Scrambler
Furthermore, Capt. Bellamy hasn’t become known for his cold shoulder to the troops. No, he’s colder than that – like the freezing temperatures of two deep freezes and a new refrigerator.
So much for the hasty generalizations that get attention.
Now for the facts – just the facts, which should prove to be entertaining and fun, just as many Hurricane Harvey recovery stories are in hindsight.
Like the captains at each of HPD’s stations, Bellamy set up a Harvey work schedule made up of 16-hour shifts for his officers. As a result, South Gessner began to resemble an Army barracks and a café.
Responding to the endless problems caused by Harvey’s flood waters, most of the troops ate and slept on-site. That wasn’t easy but the captain took the lead.
“He stayed in his office and slept there from the moment the storm hit until we got off the 16-hour shift two weeks later,” Officer Angel Waggoner explained.
After all, Capt. Bellamy lives in Spring with Crysi and the couple’s three children: Kaleigh, 10, Karys, 8, and Cole, 4.
“He had barely gotten his feet wet and was really making a lot of changes and had brought up the morale when the storm came and we had to bunker down,” said Waggoner, the South Gessner administrative crime analysis officer.
Work began for some officers at 6 a.m. The cooking started an hour earlier. Waggoner and the other cooks were busy cracking eggs and frying bacon one morning when the captain began to “scramble” around the kitchen.
“He started scrambling eggs with us,” Waggoner said, laughing at the recollection. “That was unheard-of with us. Wow! He had special ways of whipping the eggs. We’ve never seen a captain do this before. He was washing dishes – anything we needed help with he did it.
“He would pray over the food with us. It made us feel like a family, a really big family. We all got really close in the storm. Everybody did.”
The South Gessner troops anted up $20 apiece to cover the cost of the groceries needed for at least two meals a day. Of course, a generous host of Houston area restaurant and food supply businesses often provided food or meals.
The funding also covered the cost of pots, pans and other kitchen utensils.
But what to do with the leftovers and the groceries that needed cold storage?
Officers asked the captain for a deep freeze, frankly not expecting a quick response. He had one delivered by the end of the day!
“We never anticipated the donated food,” Angel reported. “We would have extra food every day. We also needed cleaning supplies like bleach for cleaning the restrooms. We were able to save the food that we didn’t use.”
Capt. Bellamy was able to do lots of scrambling and frying, for the typical South Gessner breakfast required 12 dozen eggs and up to 12 pounds of bacon, not to mention the grits, hash browns, toast and jelly.
Breakfast was a good time and location for roll calls, especially since the tables from the roll call room were used in the makeshift “café” in the hallway.
It is true that the captain slept on the job – in his office in order to be on duty 24/7. He never went home.
Finally, somebody set up “visiting hours” at the division. Not for prisoners, you understand, but for Capt. Bellamy’s family! They drove in from Spring for the quality time that was missed not only by the captain but also hundreds of HPD officers during their endless working hours in the wake of Harvey.
The Bellamy wedding anniversary date also cropped up. The captain figured he could spare a few hours with Crysi.
So a romantic night began in a restaurant. “We literally had to push him out,” Angel recalled. “Then we had a shooting and he had to work at midnight and into the next day. He didn’t get the full anniversary.”
‘Sleeping on the job’
The officer explained that there were some things the new captain wouldn’t tolerate. To wit: “He noticed a lot of people had no beds and said he didn’t want people sleeping on the floor. ‘Take this card,’ he said, ‘and get as many beds and sleeping bags as you can,’ Waggoner said.
“He showed a genuine concern for all the officers at the station. The morale is very high.”
Angel said that South Gessner got a heads-up from Southeast Division at one point and was able to secure supplies from a grocery truck. Food quality quickly went up with chickens and other meats used for barbecuing.
By and by, Bellamy approved the purchase of a second deep freeze and another refrigerator.
“If there was anything needed to make things smoother for the officers, he’s done it, hands down,” Angel said.
During the storm South Gessner had three senior police officers retire. The usual retirement ceremonies were delayed due to Harvey’s aftermath. It’s not surprising that the division has plenty of food storage for the joint celebration that will happen in late October or early November.
SPO Juan Rosario officially retired before the storm. SPOs Hollis Felder and Keith Bell postponed their retirements until “after the aftermath.”
Angel also said that the special individual donors and businesses that helped to supply the division personnel during the crucial two-week aftermath will be honored in a special recognition ceremony probably sometime in November. (The list of those honorees might be too lengthy to list herewith).
In appreciation of their special new captain, the division arranged with HPOU 1st Vice President Doug Griffith a secret presentation honoring Capt. Bellamy at the HPOU’s October general membership meeting.
The secret was kept by any number of folks, not the least of which was wife Crysi and mother Jan. There were also the division’s lieutenants – James Racus, James Skelton, Jonathon Halliday and Alberto Elizondo.
Division personnel presented Bellamy with a plaque in recognition of “leadership and support” that has made a lasting impression on the officers and staff that work with him and, yes, scrambles eggs with him.
Angel said those troops wanted Craig and Crysi to have a real anniversary celebration without having to be interrupted by a shooting investigation. They presented them with all-expense paid stays at the Houstonian and at the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles.
Officer Waggoner laughed when she said the division personnel’s first “present” to the captain was a case of honey buns, his favorite sugar snack during his unending 24/7 shift work.
“We were in the kitchen cooking with the captain,” she said. “Who else is doing this?”