HPD’s Port Patrol Unit naming patrol boats after special officers

The Canales Family

HPD’s Port Patrol Unit has developed a rather thoughtful habit of naming its patrol boats after officers who died in the line of duty.

So far there are five boats. Here are the names you hear every time there is a radio transmission that addresses the craft or as its image appears on the Automated Identification System used on the waters here, there and around the world.

  • Dawn Erickson.
  • Timothy Abernathy.
  • Eydelman Mani.
  • Kevin Will.

And, christened at Allen’s Landing on Saturday, Sept. 24, Henry Canales.

Officer Jeffrey Anderson, one of the 10 members of the Port Patrol crew, summed up this special practice well when he said:

“What makes this special for me and everybody in the unit is that we always talk about these officers are lost but not forgotten when they are killed in the line of duty.

“Each boat on the Ship Channel or anywhere else is equipped with an automated identification system (AIS). If that boat we just christened is operating it sends out the name Henry Canales.

“If it is approaching and you can see on the AIS that I am approaching you on the waterway, the vessel will be identified as the Henry Canales.”

If addressed via radio, the officer in charge of the boat would answer, “This is the Henry Canales.”

And, yes, the same thing happens on the Erickson, the Abernathy, the Will and the Mani.

What an awesome tradition that follows the “unforgotten” goal followed by the department and the Houston Police Officers Union.

The Port Patrol Unit is under the direction of Sgts. Wayne Welch and Caylon Rogers, unanimously voted to christen the fifth boat in the fleet for Canales, who was a classmate of Anderson and fellow Port Patrol Officer Paul Peters, recently retired. The three were in HPD Cadet Class No. 152.

We won’t forget that Canales, 42, (EOW: June 23, 2009) was shot and killed while conducting an undercover investigation into the sale of stolen televisions.

Anderson took care to point out that the Erickson carries on an extra special tradition.

Officer Erickson, just 22, (EOW Christmas Eve 1995) was struck by a car and killed while directing traffic at a church’s Christmas Eve services.

Anderson said Dawn’s mother attended the christening of the patrol boat named for her daughter. “Her mother gave us a key chain that was Dawn’s. She had this in her pocket when she was struck and killed. We have that chain and on it is the boat keys to the Erickson.”

The Canales christening drew a number of his family members, including his wife, Amor, who accomplished the official task with a bottle of champagne. Others present were Anderson, Peters and five other members of Canales’ Class No. 152.

Greg Anderson, Jeff’s brother, is also a Port Patrol crew member. He provided the Canales family with the first official tour of Buffalo Bayou following the cracking of that champagne bottle.

Boat christenings are special but have actually only happened twice – with the Erickson and now with the Canales. Anderson explained that the Covid pandemic delayed ceremonies of this nature. He said the christenings of the Abernathy, the Will and the Mani “will take place in the near future.”

For the record, the Erickson, at 25 feet, is the smallest. Three of the others are 33-footers, while the Mani is a 35-foot “multi-mission interceptor” which Anderson dubbed “one bad-ass boat.”

Abernathy, 43, (EOW: Dec. 7, 2008) was shot and killed during a foot pursuit of a suspect who fled following a traffic stop. His name appears in giant letters on the Park Patrol’s first boat.

Mani, 30, (EOW: May 19, 2010) was killed in a patrol car accident while responding to a call just before midnight on the North Freeway access road. His shop collided with a guard rail and overturned.

Will, 37, (EOW: May 29, 2011) was struck and killed by a drunk driver as he investigated a hit-and-run accident involving a motorcyclist on the Loop 610 North.

Greg, drove the family on the boat after the ceremony.