Hundreds of Houstonians gathered uptown for lunch last week to recognize some of their fellow citizens' efforts toward building a safer city. Crime Stoppers hosted its annual Houston's Heroes Awards Luncheon, honoring individuals, public servants, and conscientious corporations and raised over $200,000 in the process.
That money will further bolster the nonprofit's crime prevention and public safety initiatives, which accomplished quite a lot last year: In 2018, Crime Stoppers of Houston helped solve 520 cases (including 17 murders, 61 domestic violence incidents, 134 robberies, and eight bank robberies), arrest 387 fugitives, remove four weapons from local schools, educate 68,853 students, and pay $470,950 in rewards.
The Royal Sonesta lunchtime crowd of 400-plus last Wednesday heard from emcee Dana Tyson of the Sunny 99.1 Morning Show and Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious before the presentation of eight awards, including three for the first time this year. The winning "Heroes" were nominated by other community members late last year for their efforts in Houston, Texas, and beyond.
The Johnny Klevenhagen Award, named for the famed Texas Ranger, this year went to the Harris County Violent Crime Unit and the DPS Texas Anti-Gang Center Violent Crime Unit. Lt. Ralph Ohland, Special Agent Louie Verdeja and Sgt. Jeff Thomas accepted the award and were recognized for their work in building a partnership between the Department of Public Safety and Harris County Sheriff's Office, which led to the dismantlement of over 135 robbery crews collectively responsible for more than 600 robberies and to the arrest and removal of more than 400 violent criminals.
Phillips 66 earned the 2019 Corporate Citizen Award for its commitment to Crime Stoppers' Safe School Institute and for being the first to fund the Crime Stoppers Statewide Initiative, implemented after last year's Santa Fe High School shooting.
Glenda and Russell Gordy received the Fenner Weller Award for helping Crime Stoppers break ground on their new building with a significant contribution to the Houston Capital Campaign. The work is especially important to Russell, he explained, to honor his family's law enforcement legacy.
A Crime Stoppers volunteer for more than 22 years, retired FBI special agent Michael D. Wilson earned the Levi Platou Award for his longtime advocacy in the community.
The Safe School Award went to Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, whose guidance has helped Crime Stoppers' Tip Line Program and Safe School Institute grow to reach over a million students.
The first-ever Partner of the Year Award was presented to the Houston Police Department and Chief Art Acevedo and Assistant Chief Bobby Dobbins. HPD has served as the Tip Line Program's host agency since it began in 1980; officers assigned to the detail vet anonymous tips before investigation to help solve between upwards of 30-60 cases a month.
Another inaugural honor, The Women Who Shape Houston Award, went to the Houston 20 and community leaders Jennifer Hohman and Amy Pierce. The women's group is passionate about ending sex trafficking in Houston and beyond.
Finally, Houston media icon and well-known friend to Crime Stoppers Dave Ward—the organization's new building is named for Ward, who helped establish the nonprofit here in the first place back in 1981—took the stage to reveal his choice for the inaugural Dave Ward Media Excellence Award: ABC13's Ted Oberg.