Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Sheriff Ed Gonzalez

Photography by: Bijay Dixit


Article by: Manu Shah

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who took office in January, met with IACCGH members and guests to describe the “pretty daunting task” of keeping Houston safe. He was the Keynote speaker at the Chamber’s Distinguished Lecture Series with Chief Guest Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray. Dr. Ray highlighted India’s growth potential and its huge strides in “making business in India a seamless experience.” He spoke of the possibility of a direct flight between Houston and New Delhi.

Sheriff Gonzalez commenced his address by recounting how his father could not read or write and needed assistance with simple acts such as reading the menu or a sign. Growing up, this had a profound impact on him and taught him that people sometimes need assistance which should be given without “judgement or prejudice.” It was this conviction that carried him to a career in the police force.

One of his first tasks as Sheriff, he stated, was to bring the budget under control, make the dollar go far and still be effective in combating crime. The investigative department, he conceded, needed to be improved and efforts have been ramped up to redeploy resources better to prevent DWI fatalities – a leading cause of death on Houston’s highways.

The penalty for intoxication in a public place (not DUI) is a trip to jail. The Sheriff suggested alternatives such as a center where intoxicated people can be taken to sleep it off and sober up before getting on the road. Additionally, the department has partnered with the District Attorney in a program that will not incarcerate people for possession of marijuana but instead encourage them to sign up for a program that’s akin to a Defensive driving program. These are much “smarter approaches” and would save the department money and help deploy resources more effectively.

Jails, he emphasized, are there to keep people who are a danger to society and not for those making a “mistake” or a low level offence. Efforts are on to improve the criminal system and make it more “effective and compassionate.” The Sheriff also underscored the need for working with the community to bring about closer ties and “fight crime.” The city, he stated, needs “more tools in the toolbox” but assured the gathering that Houston is still “a safe region.”

The Chamber prides itself in inviting representatives of Indo- American organizations and area Chambers of Commerce to help the Speaker’s message reach the diverse Houston business community