As we approach the Christmas holidays and reach the end of 2016, I frequently pause to think about those 113 Houston police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
While opening gifts and spending time with family, I am reminded that many of the 113 HPD families will have an empty seat once occupied a loved one who served as one of Houston’s finest.
I still recall like it was yesterday that Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008. I was getting ready for church when I received the call that my friend Tim Abernethy had been killed. I think of Stephanie and the couple’s two children every Pearl Harbor Day. I pray that their pain has eased.
Who can ever forget learning on Christmas Eve 1995 that Dawn Erickson was killed while directing traffic at a Christmas Eve church service? I’m sure that on day of every year the Erickson family remembers getting the news no one wants to hear.
As I write this and look over the list of the other 111 names which hang right next to my desk, many of you know exactly where you were when you learned of the passing of one of our heroes. I know your memories of them are ever-lasting and I hope you say a prayer for each of those families whose loved ones paid the ultimate price while keeping our great city safe.
Thank you to each family member who is reading this for sharing your loved one with the City of Houston and the Houston Police Department. I assure you they may be gone, but will never be forgotten.
The 2017 legislative session begins in a few weeks. As stated in past columns, please make sure your email address is updated in our system as we will keep you informed during the session on any bills directly related to police and pensions.
Gov. Abbott has informed us that he plans to support legislation that enhances the punishment of those who target law enforcement officers. Lt. Governor Patrick has assured us that he is pushing legislation to assist survivors of officers killed in the line of duty with property tax relief. He also advises that he will push for funds to provide all Texas officers with high-powered bullet-proof vests.
Both of these leaders have been extremely supportive of law enforcement and the HPOU is proud to have endorsed them whole-heartedly.
Also, on another important legislative note, let me remind you that if the pension bill to be filed by HPOPS and the City of Houston passes, it will not take effect until July 1, 2017 at the earliest.
The City of Houston and Harris County has new leadership. Police Chief Art Acevedo was named Houston’s police chief earlier this month and Ed Gonzales becomes the newly elected sheriff on Jan. 1, 2017. We also will have a new district attorney with the election of Kim Ogg.
I have been in contact with all three of these new leaders and anticipate the same working relationship with them as the HPOU has had with their predecessors.
The HPOU thanks outgoing acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo, Sheriff Ron Hickman and District Attorney Devon Anderson for their service to Houston and Harris County citizens. We wish all three best wishes in your future endeavors and thank them for their relationship with the HPOU.