Editor’s note: Due to deadlines, this article was written prior to election results.
If it seems like not a day passes without you seeing in the news that another police officer was shot in the United States, you are right.
There has been a police officer shot every 28 hours this year That’s 255 as of Nov. 1.
Forty officers made the ultimate sacrifice as a result of that gunfire. While some politicians and news media pundits pontificate that there is no war on police officers, the statistics tell a very different story.
More than the last two years we have seen more than a 26 percent increase in police officers being shot. The current numbers show that it is not slowing down. In fact, it is getting worse – too far out of hand!
I will always express hope that things will get better, that violence against us will decrease. But let’s face reality: until the inflammatory rhetoric against us subsides – who knows when that will be? – this trend is likely to continue, possibly at an even greater pace.
It would seem an easy thing for everyone to condemn violence against law enforcement officers, but time and again people pass the buck; they refuse to call out individuals who openly chant for our deaths in the streets in our cities and towns.
I say all of this not to discourage you, but rather to keep you informed of what is going on and remind you to watch each other’s backs.
Make sure to check by on calls even if it seems routine: traffic stops, on-views, whatever it is. We need to be there for one another. Every single one of you needs to go home to the family that loves you. We must all do our part to ensure that happens.
One of our fellow 40 law enforcement personnel killed this year was one of our own, beloved 41-year Houston Police Sgt. Harold Preston. Sgt. Preston died as a hero defending a victim of domestic violence from a repeat abuser, who should have already been in prison. He wasn’t even a legal resident of this country. The failures of our criminal justice system were on display and we lost a great man because of it – not the first and, sadly, not likely to be the last time this happens.
For those of you who never had the pleasure of meeting Sgt. Preston, he was an amazing man and an even better father. He was kind to everyone with whom he came into contact. In a world turning increasingly negative, positive people like Sgt. Harold Preston stick out and always make an unforgettable impression.
After learning of his death, my phone was flooded with calls from friends and officers recounting their stories about him as a great leader, example and mentor. There was the range officer who said he only met the sergeant just once but his positivity had made an eternal impression. There was the lieutenant who sat on a department committee with him to hear him tell of his love for the department And the sergeant who let me know how important a mentor Sgt. Preston was to him.
Over 41 years of service there is no doubt thousands of stories just like these as he touched and mentored thousands of officers over his lifetime of dedicated service.
We will never forget the sacrifice he made to our community. We will continue to be there for his family for whatever they need. I ask you to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers, and also for you to keep Officer Courtney Waller and his family in your thoughts and prayers, as he continues to recover at home after multiple surgeries. Officer Waller is alive because of Sgt. Preston, who received a posthumous life-saving award for the last action of his life and HPD career.
We always honor our fallen by never forgetting them. I believe yet another way we can honor Sgt. Harold Preston is to follow the example he set for all of us over the last 41 years.
Let’s be kind and gentle to one another, let’s spread infectious positivity, and let’s mentor the future generations Houston of police officers == who are the best in the nation! They will need it now more than ever.
Everyone watch each other’s backs out there and BE SAFE!