Harris County voters chose Ed Gonzalez to serve as the 30th sheriff of Texas’ most populous county in 2016. Four years later, voters elected him to a second term.
A lifelong Houstonian, Sheriff Gonzalez started his journey in public service at the Houston Police Department, first as a civilian, then a peace officer, homicide detective, hostage negotiator, and sergeant.
After nearly two decades of service as a peace officer, Sheriff Gonzalez won a seat on the Houston City Council, serving three terms as the representative for residents in District H, an area north and east of downtown Houston. As a city councilman, he chaired the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and was appointed Mayor Pro-Tem. He was instrumental in creating the Houston Recovery Center, a diversion facility where people with public intoxication cases connect with a recovery coach rather than going to jail.
In his first year in office, Sheriff Gonzalez was called upon to lead the agency through the worst natural disaster in US history – Hurricane Harvey. While managing the 5,000-employee agency’s disaster response from the top, Sheriff Gonzalez also worked to lead from the front, personally assisting in multiple water rescues of stranded residents.
Sheriff Gonzalez also led efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the nearly 9,000 people held inside Texas’s largest county jail. Through aggressive testing, sanitation, and quarantine practices, the Harris County Jail avoided a potentially catastrophic outbreak and saved lives.
Sheriff Gonzalez has elevated discussions on mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, and rehabilitation programs and services. He prioritizes public safety and trust while maintaining fairness and dignity in the criminal justice system. Sheriff Gonzalez believes jail should be a place for people who have demonstrated they pose a legitimate threat to public safety, regardless of whether they have money to afford cash bail.
He prioritizes innovation and collaboration regarding the care and response to those with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and neurocognitive disorders. He established a telehealth program that provides deputies in the field with real-time access to behavioral health clinicians via an iPad. He also invested in expanded critical intervention and de-escalation training for detention officers and peace officers.
As advocate for mental health treatment, Sheriff Gonzalez founded the agency’s first Behavioral Health Division that offers a wide range of counseling services to employees. He also created a pre-book diversion desk at the county jail that’s operated 24/7 by clinical staff to determine a person’s diversion eligibility, expanded literacy and rehabilitation programs for incarcerated persons, and launched Project Guardian to improve deputies’ interactions with persons on the autism spectrum.
Sheriff Gonzalez expanded the agency’s homeless outreach team and crime reduction units to operate in all patrol districts, launched an anti-stalking unit that tackles threatening behaviors before they escalate into violence, and champions veteran-focused programs in the jail to support military veterans with their transition back to society.
Notably, Sheriff Gonzalez has worked hard to help Harris County shed its long-standing reputation as one of America’s most dangerous places to drive. He works with partner agencies on strategic traffic enforcement initiatives, and created the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Crimes Unit to focus on preventing road rage incidents and street racing.
Sheriff Gonzalez continues to identify critical tools and search for creative ways to improve public safety. His commitment to a more effective, equitable, and thoughtful approach to peace keeping has served as a model across the state and country.
Sheriff Gonzalez holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston-Downtown and a master of liberal arts degree from the University of St. Thomas.
Sheriff Gonzalez serves on the advisory Board of Trustees for the Council on Criminal Justice and he serves as Vice-Chair of the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is the largest sheriff’s office in Texas and the third-largest nationwide. Sheriff Gonzalez leads more than 5,000 employees to protect the 4.5 million residents living within the 1,700 square miles of Harris County.
Sheriff Gonzalez served six years on the Houston City Council, where he chaired the council’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee and served as Houston’s Mayor Pro-Tem.
Saving taxpayers money, keeping people who need help out of the criminal justice system, and keeping police officer on patrol catching hardened criminals.
Brought people together to create Café College Houston, an innovative public-private partnership between the City of Houston, the Houston Public Library, Project GRAD Houston, Houston Municipal Courts and the City of San Antonio.