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Two HPD Officers Recieve 2005 Law Enforcement Achievement Awards

May 10, 2006 -- On Thursday, May 11, 2006, two Houston Police Department Officers, Gregory P. Counties and Heidi Jean Ruiz will receive the 2005 Law Enforcement Achievement Award from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). The ceremony was held at the Texas State Capitol Building Extension Auditorium, Room E-1.004 at 1:30 p.m. in Austin, Texas.

Houston Police Department Officer Gregory P. Countie is a recipient for the award of valor. On March 7, 2005, Officer Gregory P. Countie was on routine patrol and heard a call from dispatch describing a burglary suspect on the run. The suspect had burglarized an apartment, and while attempting to flee the complex, was observed by two maintenance men who began to follow him on foot. They confronted him and tried to detain him, but the suspect shot one of the men in the leg. The suspect then ran through a field into an industrial complex. There, the suspect attempted to carjack a man in the parking lot and shot him in the area of his rib cage. The injured man was able to drive off, and the suspect continued to flee on foot. He approached a vehicle at a stoplight in a nearby intersection in another carjacking attempt, but the driver escaped on foot with the keys. Officer Countie now observed the suspect fleeing on foot, and pursued him to a residential driveway where the suspect was attempting a third carjacking at gunpoint. Officer Countie ordered the suspect to drop his gun. The suspect pulled the trigger and the bullet grazed the resident's ear. Officer Countie then returned fire and shot the suspect. The resident, Mr. Thomas Blackwell, was immediately grateful to Officer Countie and credits him for saving his life. Not only did Officer Countie save Mr. Blackwell's life that day, but he also rid the Houston streets of a dangerous criminal.

Houston Police Department Officer Heidi Jean Ruiz is a recipient for the award of professional achievement. Officer Ruiz is assigned to the Juvenile Division, Sex Crimes Unit of the Houston Police Department. She has performed outstanding investigations on sexual assault cases against children, received several chief-of-police commendations, received many letters of supervisory commendation, and has been recognized twice by the Houston Chapter of the American Society for Industrial Security and the Houston Optimists for her work in the investigations of sexually exploited children. In 2001, Officer Ruiz showed relentless pursuit in a case where a well-known professional rapper sexually assaulted a nine-year-old child. Although she could have limited her investigation to her assigned case, Officer Ruiz went beyond her normal duties, and in her pursuit of the facts, she discovered seven more victims and built a larger case against the perpetrator and his repeated pattern of assault. In another case, an eleven-year-old girl was walking to school when two male suspects pulled up in a vehicle and kidnapped her. As one suspect drove the vehicle, the other sexually assaulted her. The child was later dropped off near her home. The police were contacted, but they were initially unsuccessful in locating the vehicle or the suspects. The case was assigned to Officer Ruiz and she learned through DNA evidence that the suspects were identical twins. The Gang Task Force recognized these twins as gang members and arrested one of them for a probation violation. The arrested suspect confessed, and both suspects were convicted of the crime. One day, while off duty and in her personal vehicle, Officer Ruiz recognized a suspect driving a white van. The suspect matched the description of a man who was wanted in the sexual assault of a twelve-year-old boy. She called another officer with the information and was relayed to a dispatcher who coordinated a response with a department helicopter and other officers. Patrol units conducted a felony traffic stop and arrested the driver. He confessed to the sexual assault and is now being held in custody without bond. Officer Ruiz has been continually successful in her high profile investigations. She shows dedication, persistence, and compassion for her profession.

AW 5-10-06

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.