LEAVE IT TO THE HPOU TO MAKE SURE AN ABBREVIATED POLICE WEEK has a very special event designed to remember the fallen heroes of the Bayou City.
Although there will be no high-profile kudos to HPD’s “police heroes” in special recognition ceremonies as in past years and even though the Washington, DC ceremonies on the Capitol Grounds was postponed until October, the Union has one special plan in mind.
No pandemic, freeze, hurricane or mass demonstration will keep HPOU from holding its annual Police Memorial on Friday, May 7. As always, it begins with a reception at the Breck Porter Building to set the stage for the special ceremony at the HPD Police Memorial down Memorial Drive from State Street. Some folks walk reverently down the street to the site, while others take special transportation furnished by HPOU.
The 119 Houston police officers – including five killed in the line of duty during the past 16 months – will be specially recognized. Their surviving family members will experience this special recognition and realize once again that one major tenant of the members of the Houston Police Officers Union is to never forget these fellow officers who gave their lives to protect the citizens of Houston – the Bayou City.
Despite postponements or cancellations of the traditional Police Week activities, a strong contingent of HPOU members attended the May 2 Texas Peace Officers Memorial candlelight vigil in Austin at a location near the State Capitol. Again, the pandemic kept this proud tradition away from its natural venue. It didn’t stop the attendance of HPD Officer Austin Gryder, the son of two Houston officers, Gary and Debbie Gryder. Gary Gryder died the line of duty on June 29, 2008. For the first time current Officer Gryder was able to see his dad’s name affixed to the Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol Grounds.
The never-say-die attitude about this year’s abbreviated Police Week was strongly evident at the HPOU, where board members devoted extra hours contacting the surviving family members of our fallen heroes. Envelopes were stuffed by Nelson Zoch, Sue Gaines, and Barbara Cotton of the Retied Officers Association; as well as Lisa Marino of the HPOU. Indeed, they found numerous survivors who were not on the Union’s official list. All told, 230 invitations were extended to these surviving family members, a new modern-day Police Week record. The board covered surviving family members going back more than 100 years – to the 1917 death of Officer Edwin Meinecke.
The example of dedication was one more example of the fact that no pandemic can stop Houston police officers from doing their job!