Montrose Patrol Profiles: Officer Joe Mabasa
Houston Police Department Officer Joseph Mabasa remembers a different Montrose, a place where drug dealing and prostitution were seemingly everywhere. “There was prostitution and drugs 24/7,” he said. “It was bad. We could literally walk out of the police station, walk two blocks down Westheimer, and buy crack or a prostitute. That’s just the way it was.”
That was a decade ago. Today the neighborhood is largely drug- and prostitution-free, thanks to HPD officers like Mabasa, now a member of the Montrose Patrol.
Mabasa is one of 16 HPD officers who work part-time for the Montrose Patrol, which is funded by the Montrose Management District. Last September, he and his partner Aaron Day took a call from Houston Press reporter Meagan Flynn, whose car had just been stolen at gunpoint in broad daylight. After trading in their bikes for a patrol car, they were able to chase down the vehicle and apprehend the robbers.
“We were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” Mabasa said. “It’s all about how fast people call in—we’ll drop whatever we’re doing and find them, because those are the guys you want to catch, the violent ones.”
For as long as he can remember, Mabasa has wanted to be a police officer. He got his first taste of action in high school when he began volunteering with the Guardian Angels, a nation-wide safety patrol group that assists the police in catching criminals. It was after this experience he decided that “this is my thing.”
After spending five and a half years in the Navy, Mabasa came back to Houston in 1991 and joined the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked for a year before switching over to HPD. He made a name for himself as someone who could effectively take criminals off the streets.
“I would hide under houses, on roofs, in trees. I did it all,” said Mabasa.
What makes the job worthwhile, he said, is the satisfaction of helping people who have been hurt by a crime. “The thing that bugs me the most about criminals is that they only victimize people they know are easy targets. It isn’t fair the way they pick their victims. So it’s rewarding to help those people.”
Patience, persistence and vigilance are not only inherent to Mabasa when in uniform. When he gets time off from patrolling the streets, he’s usually found somewhere in the outdoors fishing in the Gulf or hunting feral hogs.