THE BADGE & GUN HAS DECIDED THAT THE NEXT time it wrote the term “Assist the Officer” in this publication it would have to be in italics. Why?
Quite simply, Assist the Officer is doing its job like never before. Every issue spotlights the latest accomplishments of the organization’s basic reason for being. While many fundraisers had been done before, there was a need to create a 501(c)3 charity. Those efforts began when Solo Motorcycle Officer Michael Mitchell suffered serious injuries while on duty. At that time there was the 100 Club of Greater Houston, but they were only assisting surviving families of officers who made the ultimate sacrifice — since then the 100 Club has begun helping officers that are seriously injured. But, at the time there was no mechanism for helping those seriously injured who were unable to serve on duty and take on those necessary extra jobs.
Officers in the department pitched in and assisted Michael Mitchell and his family. After his recovery, Michael and others formed Assist the Officer. The history includes one helpful-hand account after another and another. The Houston Police Officers’ Union works so closely with Assist the Officer that the two groups are practically synonymous: thus, ATO becoming the HPOU’s official non-profit.
ATO – make that ATO in italics – worked endless hours to help the Pavlov family after Officer Oleg Pavlov’s accidental death at his home last November. It went the extra mile by setting up an account at the Houston Police Federal Credit Union for any contributions that officers and friends want to make.
This issue spotlights one ATO effort after another. We should take our hats off to Officer Chris Meade for his tireless effort to arrange an ATO fundraiser for Officer Jarrid Sallee, who was wounded in the line of duty. The total amount of contributions should reach $120,000 plus.
Alongside the Meade/Sallee account was yet another ATO success story. When Nakoa Perales, son of HPD Sgt.’s Mike and Kim Perales, found out he had leukemia three years ago, the organization stepped forward to raise money to help with mounting medical expenses. Our story this month features the bell-ringing event that signaled the world that Nakoa, which in Hawaiian means “Warrior,” had defeated the Big C!
And still there is more. HPD supporter Matt Rankin is working with Assist the Officer to provide free services to HPD widows in need. Rankin owns a power wash business and believes when an officer whose life was shortened by wounds on duty leaves a wife behind, she might not have the wherewithal to fully maintain the household. Rankin will power wash the sidewalk, driveway, roof or whatever he and ATO believes will adequately help.
And still more: HPD’s K9 officers and handlers, led by Senior Police Officer Kristin Uhlin, made a big hit at Houston’s largest dog show last month, raising thousands of dollars for ATO’s Retired K9 Fund which pays annual vet bills for retired canines and partners with local vets for discounts.
But, there’s more! AmCap Home Loans celebrated their “Give Back Day” on July 14 by donating 4 Texans’ Season Tickets to every 2022 home game to Assist the Officer to help provide some normalcy and comfort to HPD officers that have been impacted by serve injuries or illness. On that day, the company provided breakfast for Major Offenders and ATO to show special support for the group that lost SPO William “Bill” Jeffrey in December of 2021. This was all organized by local AmCap Home Loan Vice President and spouse of Retired of SPO Chris Helton’s wife, Heather Helton.
Finally, on Aug. 13, Darrell Kuykendall, a long-time friend of HPOU President Doug Griffith, has set up his second Back the Blue fundraising event for Saturday, Aug. 13. Last time he had one the event raised almost $50,000. This year Kuykendall’s hoping for even more.
The recipient of every dollar raised? Assist the Officer!
Great stories! Great funding! A great organization!