Editor’s note: This is the first edition of a monthly feature called Constable’s Corner, in which the Office of Harris County Constable Alan Rosen writes about issues and initiatives affecting the community and its safety.
By The Office of Alan Rosen
He was only 3 years old.
Raymond Pryer Jr. never even made it to kindergarten.
“R.J.” never had the chance to have his first kiss, to learn to drive, to go to college, to fulfill his destiny, whatever that might have been.
Why? Because he was left in the back of a vehicle on a sizzling-hot July day in Houston last year and died. R.J. had been at Discovering Me Academy, a day care facility on Antoine Drive that closed afterward.
Our deputies from Harris County Constable Precinct 1 were the first to respond to this scene, so this case is one that has hit particularly close to home.
We are not here to place blame. The justice system will work that out. But we DO want to prevent this sort of unnecessary and untimely death from happening again.
That’s why we’ve created a physical reminder that we are giving away, free, to the public. This placard — which says “Look Before You Lock” and “Baby in the Back” — can be placed on the rearview mirror of your car, on the gear shift or even be hung on the interior handle of the door on the driver’s side of the car. The hope is that you see this reminder as you are getting out of your vehicle so you don’t forget your precious cargo in the backseat.
We’d like to acknowledge R.J.’s mother, Dikeisha Whitlock-Pryer, who is in support of this effort. Following R.J.’s tragic death, she created The RJ Foundation 4 Kids, a nonprofit focused on preventing similar deaths. You can find out more about her organization at https://therjfoundation4kids.com/.
We want to thank WAZE, which has agreed to partner with us in this endeavor. Every day, its app helps millions of drivers get where they are going by crowdsourcing information about road and traffic conditions. The app also now has an option you can set that gives you both a visual and audio reminder to check for a baby in the back upon reaching your destination. We encourage you to download the app and use this resource as another method of attempting to prevent senseless deaths.
We’ve also joined in this effort with the national nonprofit KidsandCars.org. The organization tells us that 2018 was the worst year on record for hot vehicle deaths. Its data shows 52 deaths across the U.S. last year. Each of those cases is a child who, like R.J., will never grow up.
Visit https://www.kidsandcars.org/ to learn more about the importance of protecting your child from the extreme heat which occurs every year inside vehicles. If only one death is prevented by this effort, we will consider that a success.
To sign up for a free “Baby in the Back” reminder placard, log on to https://pct1constable.net/public-safety/. The placard will mailed to the requester upon completion of registration. There is no charge.
You can also pick up placards from the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office downtown at 1302 Preston St., from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Remember to LOOK BEFORE YOU LOCK.