MISSION – The Mission Police Department dispatcher’s voice crackled over the radio inside Officer Gonzalez’s unit, “All units clear all radio traffic in honor of fallen officer,” on Friday, Sept. 4, 11 a.m.
Gonzalez sits with head bowed and cap off while he and other officers throughout Mission, Hidalgo County, the Rio Grande Valley and Texas shared a moment of silence for Deputy Darren Goforth, who was shot while in uniform refueling his patrol car. For one minute, all units stopped, flashed their red and blue lights on their police units and contemplated.
“It’s one of the things you think about in the academy, and you hope it doesn’t happen – if I die out there. But after you spend some time out here, you hope to die in an honorable way.” Gonzalez said.
“It’s hard to explain when you do something like this. It’s a rude awakening. I guess maybe I’m different from everyone else or everyone thinks the same as me, but I hope that I get that same honor when I pass, no matter how I go.”
Most recently, and close to home, some have attributed the slaying of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Not all the people in the movement are violent, but within it, violent factions of the black community, such as the New Black Panthers and others have called “open season” on killing police officers and white people in general.
Gonzalez said the recent events have not changed how he approaches his job.
“It’s protecting people’s rights, their freedom of speech. They can say whatever they want and do what they want as long as it is in the parameters of the law.
“I’ve always approached people with the same amount of caution, no matter what the circumstances are. When you’re doing this job, you always have to be on guard, always, no matter what.”
He comes from a family of service. His father was a Marine, and other relatives are serving in the Army. A cousin is a trooper in West Texas.
Gonzalez is a family man with three daughters, and he said they are supportive of his service.
“They love it. One of my daughters asked if I could pick her up in uniform from school,” he said.
Communities across the country have come together in support of police officers, and some officers on social media have even promoted more interaction with the community. Gonzalez enjoys his ability to do the same, but he has reservations about the future of such things based on current events.
“I’ve seen these ads on Facebook about free hugs from an officer and that sort of thing, and I really think that it’s coming to a time where that is going to end,” he said. “One of the things they always told us in the academy was you never want it to be us versus them. You always want it to be us for them.”