Sheriff holds safety forum, receives East Aldine Partner’s award

SHERIFF ED GONZALEZ holds the Strategic Partner Award, presented to him by East Aldine Chairman Gerald Overturff, as Deputies Klozik, Scholwinski, Gore, and East Aldine Board Members Patti Acosta and Gil Hoffman look on.
SHERIFF ED GONZALEZ holds the Strategic Partner Award, presented to him by East Aldine Chairman Gerald Overturff, as Deputies Klozik, Scholwinski, Gore, and East Aldine Board Members Patti Acosta and Gil Hoffman look on.

EAST ALDINE – The Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, held a Safety Meeting at the East Aldine offices last Thursday evening, March 21st. The meeting was attended by representatives of various civic clubs, neighborhoods, and the Airline District.

Sheriff Gonzalez told the audience that he was depending upon their help to reduce crime, saying, “You are our eyes and ears.”

He said that his goal was to have regular monthly meetings with the community leaders and citizens, and urged attendees to bring friends and family to the next meeting.

Gonzalez made reference to his involvement with the Aldine community, noting that his 9-1-1 Call Center would be part of the new East Aldine Town Center.

The sheriff and his staff then reviewed crime statistics for the area, and discussed initiatives they planned to reduce the crime. Gonzalez said they need more staffing, but that a class of 63 new cadets was graduating this week. He said he is willing to spend overtime dollars to solve specific crime problems, but the “we want to hear of the problems” from citizens. He said they are adding several motorcycle units to the local force, which are especially effective in traffic enforcement.

Gonzalez said that they are trying to use more technology to make up for the shortage of deputies, and told about how they map “hot spots” regularly to determine where the worst problems are. Then they assign an undercover unit, and other marked unit working together to solve the problems in that area. He said he rotates his Hot Spot team around the five districts that he covers. Gonzalez thought that his office could “become more effective” by coordinating all his resources to work together.

Lt. Klozik, the 2nd shift commander in the Aldine area, and Deputy Gore discussed the specific policing they are able to do in Aldine. They said that because of the contract deputies paid for by the East Aldine District, they are able to have as many as 8 deputies and supervisors on patrol during the day shift, with a reduced number at night.

Members of the audience were asked about specific problems in their areas. Representatives from the Castlewood subdivision presented a long list of problems and asked the Sheriff for help in solving them. These include continual random or recreational gunfire, though to originat on Ladin Drive; the need for a traffic light at Lauder and Green Ranch; speeding, on Lauder Road, Connorvale, and in the Castlewood neighborhood; stop signs being ignored; home break-ins; and cars being stolen or broken into. Sheriff Gonzalez and Lt. Klozik said that they would put more patrols in the area, perhaps some undercover units or just a patrol car sitting on certain streets. They also will employ a technique called “Knock and Talk” to interact with residents in the area to make them aware of the patrols.

Another resident reported racing in the Little York/Bentley area, and cars making “donuts” or circles on streets and parking lots.

In regard to car break-ins, Gonzalez said that over 50% of these are unlocked, and urged drivers to lock their cars and not to leave valuables in sight. Stolen cars, he said, have the keys left in them in almost 50% of the cases. Detective Cerna, an undercover deputy, discussed crime in the area. He said that in spite of the perception of high crime rates, the Aldine area stats showed it had the lowest rate of crime of the five Sheriff’s precincts. Cerna’s unit is responsible for investigating breaking and entering crimes, auto theft, and other types of theft, including stealing your information from credit cards, and mail records. He demonstrated that it was very easy for a criminal to attain your credit card information with what is known as an RF scanner, which can read your magnetic strip information from a distance. He said there are metal pouches that can be used to protect against this type of theft.

Cerna demonstrated a kill switch, which he recommended be installed in every car, to keep someone who breaks in from being able to drive away. This should be hidden, where the owner knows but it is not obvious. A similar remedy is to remove a fuse from the electrical starter circuit, but this is not as convenient.

Cerna had a number of locks with him, and said they should be used to lock a shaft on your pick-up truck tailgate assembly, to keep the tailgate from being stolen. He said this is a very common crime, and can be very expensive to the truck owner. Tailgates can cost $3000 to $5000 to replace, he said.