How to Become a Police Officer in Houston

Houston, Texas is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and as the city continues to grow, the city’s police force also looks to increase the number of new recruits entering the department.1 This is good news for anyone looking to become a Houston police officer because the department is currently recruiting qualified candidates for its training program.

Of course, like any major city, the Houston Police Department has a number of strict requirements for police candidates. The steps to becoming a Houston police officer are numerous and demanding, but the job comes with a number of benefits. The process of entering the Houston police force is described in detail below.

Houston Police Officer Requirements

Houston Police Department Headquarters

Houston Police Department Headquarters

All applicants looking to work in law enforcement in Houston must be a US citizen, at least 21 years old at the date of hire and have a valid driver’s license.

For educational requirements, candidates must have at least 48 semester hours of credit from an accredited college or university OR a minimum of two year of active duty in the US military with a honorable discharge OR at least five years experience as a peace officer licensed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) or an equivalent licensing agency from another state.
Houston cop candidates must also submit to an extensive background check and polygraph. Anyone with a felony charge or a class B misdemeanor are automatically disqualified for eligibility. Candidates’ driving records should be relatively clean, meaning free from many traffic infractions or other recurring behavior that shows bad judgment and civil prudence.

Additionally, according to the Houston Police Department regulation, any candidate who has tattoos that cannot be covered up with the city police uniform will not be eligible for employment.

Examinations Required for Houston Police Recruits

In addition to the many basic requirements listed above, aspiring police recruits must pass a number of physical and mental examinations. The first step is a reading comprehension test followed by a physical agility test. After these tests are passed, candidates will then have to submit to a polygraph test, which precedes a psychological and medical exam. The final step before being admitted to the Houston Police Academy is an interview and a review of the candidate’s potential ability to work as a Houston cop.

For more information, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our homepage and once ready to apply for a position at the HPD, application information can be found at the Houston Police Department Career page.

The current chief of police is a Charles McClelland, a 35 year veteran at the Houston Police Department. Mr. McClelland graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Houston. He also graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy.

Houston Police Department Information

The HPD is divided into 13 patrol divisions, which are further divided into districts that have various beats. All Houston police stations are operated and staffed 24 hours a day. Additionally, there are 29 storefront HPD locations that are also found throughout the city, although they are open normal business hours only.

The Houston Police Department also has a Special Operations Unit that consists of seven operational units that include Auto Theft, Crime Lab, Identification, Property, Robbery, Special Operations and Vice. Within this Special Units group, there are specialized sub-categories that are assigned between 230 Special Unit officers. Those officers work in designated assignments such as City Hall Detail, Bike Patrol, Tactical Unit, Patrol, Mounted Patrol Division, DRT Unit, Special Events Unit, and Special Response Group.

Houston Police Training Academy

Once candidates have met all of the requirements listed above, they may be eligible for the Houston Police Training Academy. The academy curriculum consists of six months of intense academic and physical training as well as tactical strategy and firearm training. Once candidates complete the training, new recruits leave the Academy on a six-month probationary period and are assigned to a Field Training Officer (FTO) Program for 12 to 16 weeks. Typically, a new recruit will be assigned as a patrol officer as his or her first active duty on the force.

Houston Police Salary and Jobs Outlook

Salaries for the Houston Police Department can vary depending on experience and education. However, the average annual salary for a Houston patrol officer is $53,810.2

The Houston Police Department is currently actively recruiting qualified candidates for the 2014 academy classes. The entire application process may take approximately 90 days to complete. To find the HPD examination schedule and accompanying paperwork, consult the HPD’s Career Page.

For more information on current Houston law enforcement positions, take a look at our state job board page.

More Information on the Houston Police Department and Crime

The Houston Police Department has always focused on strengthening ties with the local community. In fact, their Community Service Division dates back to the 1970s. One of the city’s most successful initiatives is the Positive Interaction Program (PIP), which holds monthly meetings that feature speakers from the different divisions such as Burglary and Theft, Homicide, K-9, Helicopters, etc. The aim of the program is to explain to residents how the divisions work and how they can be best utilized by the community in need of help if the time arises.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Houstonpolice
Twitter: @houstonpolice

Houston Police Department
17000 Aldine Westfield Rd
Houston, TX 77073
(281) 230-2300

Additional Resources

1. US Census Bureau: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2016/cb16-81.html
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_26420.htm
3. HPD Careers: http://www.hpdcareer.com/

Image Credit: Wikipedia