Eric Rhoden was just a kid when he learned the value of public service from his father.
“He was the director of the emergency service department where I grew up in Harlingen,” Rhoden said of his dad. “It was instilled in me, the public service he provided to the community.”
Rhoden now follows in his father’s footsteps as a public servant. He is a project manager for the city’s General Services Department and volunteers in his off time as a reserve deputy for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Command.
One of the largest sheriff's reserve organizations in Texas, the HCSO Reserve Command is made up of volunteer deputies who patrol, respond to calls, and assist with fugitive transports, criminal warrants, criminal investigations and much more.
“It’s always been in the back of mind to serve in whatever capacity it may be,” Rhoden said.
Rhoden’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety of residents, both in his role for the city and as a HCSO reserve deputy, earned him a 2017 Bravo Award. The award recognizes city employees whose volunteerism helps make difference in the community.
“His sacrifice to serve the Houston community as a volunteer reserve deputy has contributed to Houston’s reputation as a safe and attractive community in which to live,” said Eberto Amador, a senior project manager for GSD.
At-Large Councilman Jack Christie agrees.
“The Bravo Awards are a big deal,” Christie said. “These are the best of the best.”
Dual roles prove fruitful for community
During the week, you can find Rhoden reviewing design plans for a city building, discussing the rehabilitation of a library or community center, or doing an on-site walkthrough of the repairs for fire and police stations. It’s a craft that he pursued after getting of the military.
“I grew up very hands on — woodworking, metal working and projects. I fell right into it,” said Rhoden, who worked in construction management before joining the city. “Managing this kind of process comes natural.”
“Eric is committed to the City of Houston and the General Services Department, as well as our clients’ needs,” Amador said. “If ever he is called upon, there is no hesitation.”
But at least two weekends out the month, you can find Rhoden on patrol in Houston’s District 3 near the Channelview and Crosby areas.
“I respond to a lot of domestic disturbances, noise complaints, some kind of assault, alarm calls, break-ins and robbery calls,” Rhoden said.
Rhoden was accepted into the HCSO reserve program in 2013 and completed the 13-month program in 2015 — one of just 13 of the 300 applicants who graduated.
“I am very proud to be able to serve,” said Rhoden of his volunteerism as a reserve HCSO deputy. “I know deep down that I’m making a difference.”
Along with weekend patrols, Rhoden has provided service during special events including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Tour de Houston, and the annual FM 1960 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Spring.
Rhoden sees his volunteerism with HCSO as way to interact with residents and create positive connections.
“The outcome that I love to see is for them to walk away with a positive outlook on law enforcement,” Rhoden said of being “a respectful officer and not talking down to anybody and treating them the same.”
While Rhoden enjoys his time as a reserve deputy and his career with the city, it’s the opportunity to serve that he most enjoys.
“Serving the community and the City of Houston is just a bonus,” Rhoden said.