By: Paige Hubbard
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez on Thursday was appointed Vice-Chair of the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. County Judge Lina Hidalgo chairs the council, which drives the county’s criminal justice policies.
Council members include criminal court judges, victims’ rights advocates, prosecutors and defense attorneys, mental health and substance abuse service providers, mayors, homeless population experts, and law enforcement leaders.
“I am truly honored to be chosen by my peers to help steer Harris County’s criminal justice system forward,” Sheriff Gonzalez said. “We all understand the importance of running a system that places public safety, integrity, and fairness above all other considerations.
All Harris County residents deserve a criminal justice system they can trust to implement policies and practices that are driven by reliable data, thoughtful research, and genuine input from all stakeholders.”
Gonzalez has ushered in several innovative initiatives since assuming leadership of the largest sheriff’s office in Texas in 2017.
Those efforts include:
• Launching the Office of Mental Health Policy and Jail Diversion Projects. This office created a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team training program that is teaching all detention officers and deputies best practices for helping those who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
• Leading a countywide, multi-agency effort to address our region’s high traffic fatality rate.
• Implementing an opioid addiction treatment program to help jail inmates return to society sober and prepared to turn their lives around.
• Partnering with the Mayor’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to address the unique needs of the children of incarcerated parents.
Created by Harris County Commissioners Court in 2009, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council serves as a focal point for efforts to enhance public safety by improving the criminal justice system and seeking alternatives to incarceration for those accused of non-violent crimes and those suffering from mental illness.