February 25, 2019

Norman-Zarate Police & Municipal Court Building

The dedication ceremony for our new Police and Municipal Court building was as much a celebration of our fallen heroes as of the building itself, now named after them.  It was the perfect opportunity to honor and remember Sergeant Jimmie DeVeril Norman (End of Watch 12/24/12) and Officer Marco Antonio Zarate (7/12/16), and to reflect on their selfless service and sacrifice, and that of all officers, in the protection and defense of others.  Making the moment all the more meaningful was having their families there, accompanied by the Bellaire Police Department Honor Guard, to unveil the signage and reveal the special tribute.

To go along with the naming of the building, they also uncovered our beautiful memorial wall bearing photos of Sergeant Norman and Officer Zarate and a brief bio on each.  Etched in glass mounted over polished black tile, the display is interactive for the viewer, who sees his or her own image reflected back alongside theirs.  As Chief Holloway explained, the experience reminds us of all that police officers and civilians have in common, and that every one of us is part of the story being told.  Borrowed from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial is a quote from President George H.W. Bush:  “Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.”

Following the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting, police and municipal court personnel hosted an open house and public tour of the facilities.  They’d even set up a scavenger hunt for the kids, who would record their visits at a number of informational stations throughout the building to earn a prize at the end, a limited edition challenge coin commemorating the Bellaire Police Department centennial with the theme “100 Years of Service.”  Tour participants enjoyed checking out the various amenities and gadgets, and officers were more than happy to show off their new digs!

The upgraded police station is a vast improvement over the old, featuring dedicated classroom and training spaces including a state-of-the-art Laser Shot simulator funded by the Bellaire Police & Fire Foundation, advanced evidence management and storage, and updated physical fitness and locker room facilities to support our modern, diverse police force.  On the municipal court side, functional enhancements include a better layout for a more orderly jury assembly process, improved interaction on warrant files and for trial preparation, and a more private setting for defense lawyers to meet with their clients.  Court participants, residents and non-residents alike, will find increased efficiencies in service delivery and a more pleasant setting in which to conduct their business, thoughtfully designed to take advantage of and bring in the beauty of the surrounding park environment.

It’s quite fitting that we’ve opened this new facility during our police department’s centennial year.  With its greatly improved functionality and upgraded technology, we begin our next 100 Years of Service fully equipped to support modern operational needs.  And it’s built with future expansion already in mind, for when it may eventually be needed, given the ever-evolving professional landscape in law enforcement.

With this dedication it is truly our wonderful privilege to memorialize Sergeant Norman and Officer Zarate and to honor them and their families for their sacrifices.  It is our hope that all who pass by and see their names on the wall will forever be reminded not only of them, but of the dangers of the job that all officers readily accept, those perils in our society we’d rather not think about, and their selfless willingness to do so in order that their fellow citizens might not have to.  Through their Service, Honor and Courage, the men and women of the Bellaire Police Department stand together in defending our community, and all of Bellaire stands together with them and with eternal gratitude for each and every one of them.