Houston Police Department
The Houston Police Department (HPD) is the primary law enforcement agency serving the City of Houston, Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and some surrounding areas. Its headquarters are in 1200 Travis
1200 Travis
1200 Travis is a 28-story building in Downtown Houston, Texas that is currently occupied by the Houston Police Department as its current headquarters. At one time it was known as the Houston Natural Gas Building. The building, with of rentable space, has a typical floor size of...

 in Downtown Houston
Downtown Houston
Downtown Houston is the largest business district of Houston, Texas, United States. Downtown Houston, the city's central business district, contains the headquarters of many prominent companies. There is an extensive network of pedestrian tunnels and skywalks connecting the buildings of the district...


HPD's jurisdiction often overlaps with several other law enforcement agencies, among them the Harris County Sheriff's Office
Harris County Sheriff's Office
The Harris County Sheriff's Office is a local law enforcement agency serving the over three million citizens of Harris County, Texas, United States. It is headquartered in the 1200 Jail in Downtown Houston.As of the 2000 U.S...

 and the Harris County Constable Precincts. HPD is the largest municipal police department in Texas.

According to the HPD's website, "The mission of the Houston Police Department is to enhance the quality of life in the City of Houston by working cooperatively with the public and within the framework of the U.S. Constitution to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear and provide for a safe environment."

The current Chief of police is Charles McClelland
Charles McClelland
Charles A. McClelland, Jr. is the current police chief of the Houston Police Department . Joining the department in May 1977, McClelland worked his way up through the ranks, from rookie to assistant chief in 1998, before being asked to step in as acting chief...



Houston was founded by brothers Augustus
Augustus Chapman Allen
Augustus Chapman Allen , along with his younger brother, John Kirby Allen, founded the City of Houston in the U.S. state of Texas. He was born on July 4, 1806, in Canasareaugh, New York, to Sarah and Roland Allen.- Early years :...

 and John Kirby Allen
John Kirby Allen
John Kirby Allen was born in Canasareaugh, near Syracuse in the U.S. state of New York. He, along with his older brother, Augustus Chapman Allen, founded Houston, Texas in 1836. John Kirby Allen was never married...

 in 1836 and incorporated as a city the next year, 1837. As the city quickly grew, so did the need for a cohesive law enforcement agency. It was in 1841 that the Houston Police Department was founded. The first HPD badge
A badge is a device or fashion accessory, often containing the insignia of an organization, which is presented or displayed to indicate some feat of service, a special accomplishment, a symbol of authority granted by taking an oath , a sign of legitimate employment or student status, or as a simple...

 issued bore the number "1."

The early part of the 20th century was a time of enormous growth for both the City of Houston and for the Houston Police Department. Due to growing traffic concerns in downtown Houston, the HPD purchased its first automobile in 1910 and created its first traffic squad during that same year. Eleven years later, in 1921, the HPD installed the city's first traffic light
Traffic light
Traffic lights, which may also be known as stoplights, traffic lamps, traffic signals, signal lights, robots or semaphore, are signalling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings and other locations to control competing flows of traffic...

. This traffic light was manually operated until 1927, when automatic traffic lights were installed.

As Houston became a larger metropolis throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the HPD found itself growing and acquiring more technology to keep up with the city's fast pace. The first homicide division was established in 1930. During that same year, the HPD purchased newer weapons to arm their officers: standard issue .44 caliber revolvers and two Thompson submachine gun
Thompson submachine gun
The Thompson is an American submachine gun, invented by John T. Thompson in 1919, that became infamous during the Prohibition era. It was a common sight in the media of the time, being used by both law enforcement officers and criminals...

s. In 1939, the department proudly presented its first police academy class. The Houston Police Officers Association (HPOA) was created in 1945. This organization later became the Houston Police Officers Union .

Throughout the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, the HPD also experienced its own highs and lows. The first HPD bomb squad was created in 1966. The next year, 1967, saw massive riots at Texas Southern University
Texas Southern University
Texas Southern University is a historically black university located in Houston, Texas, United States....

. During the riots, one officer was killed and nearly 500 students were arrested. It was as a result of these riots that the still-active Community Relations Division was created within the HPD. In 1970, the Helicopter Patrol Division was created with three leased helicopters. That year also marked the department's first purchase of bulletproof vests for their officers. The HPD's first Special Weapons and Tactical Squad (SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

) was formed in 1975.

Modern times

In 1982, the Houston Police Department appointed its first African-American chief of police, Lee P. Brown
Lee P. Brown
Lee Patrick Brown had a long-time career in law enforcement, leading police departments in Atlanta, Houston and New York over the course of nearly four decades. During this time he helped to implement a number of techniques in community policing that appeared to result in substantial decreases in...

. Brown served as chief from 1982 to 1990 and later became the City of Houston's first African-American mayor in 1998. While Brown was considered a successful chief, he also earned the unflattering moniker "Out of Town Brown" for his many lengthy trips away from Houston during his tenure .

Brown's appointment was controversial from the start. Traditional HPD officers frowned upon Brown because he was an outsider from Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

 where he was the police commissioner; to become the police chief in Houston, an officer has to advance through the rank and file although the "good old boy" culture was prevalent.

The HPD paved a new road again in 1990 when Mayor Kathy Whitmire appointed Elizabeth Watson
Elizabeth Watson
Elizabeth "Betsy" Watson, was Houston's first female Police chief after climbing through the ranks. She served for two years before becoming the Chief for Austin's Police department before moving onto be a Law Enforcement Consultant.- Personal :...

 as the first female chief of police. Elizabeth Watson served from 1990 to 1992 and was followed by Sam Nuchia
Sam Nuchia
Sam Nuchia is a professor at the University of Houston–Downtown. He previously served as an appellate judge and served 17 years with the Houston Police Department beginning in 1967. Leaving HPD as Deputy Chief to become a prosecutor as an assistant U.S...

, who served as police chief from 1992 to 1997. In 1997, Clarence O. Bradford
Clarence Bradford
Clarence O'Neal Bradford, known as C.O. "Clarence" Bradford , is a Houston City Council member-Elect, a former Chief of Police of Houston, Texas and lost as the Democratic Party candidate for District Attorney of Harris County, Texas in 2008.In the 2011 election, Bradford won a second term as...

 was appointed as chief. In 2002, Bradford was indicted and later acquitted of perjury charges, stemming from an incident in which he allegedly lied under oath about cursing fellow officers . Since late 2007, Bradford was the Democratic nominee for Harris County District Attorney where he will be facing a Republican opponent (either Kelly Siegler or Patricia Lykos; the incumbent, Charles A. 'Chuck' Rosenthal, resigned prior to withdrawing his candidacy due to an e-mail scandal). Bradford faced Patricia Lykos and lost the election; he later campaigned in 2009 for a Houston City Council at-large council seat vacated by Ronald C. Green, who ran for controller.

Since 1992, the Houston City Marshal's division, Houston Airport Police, and Houston Park Police were absorbed into HPD. In early 2004, during Mayor Bill White's first term in office, HPD absorbed the Neighborhood Protection division from the City of Houston Planning Department, which was renamed the Neighborhood Protection Corps in 2005.

Crime laboratory

In November 2002, the CBS local tv station KHOU began broadcasting a multi-part investigation into the accuracy of the HPD Crime Lab's findings. Particularly of interest to the reporters were criminal cases that involved DNA analysis and serological (body fluid) testing. Night after night journalists David Raziq, Anna Werner and Chris Henao presented case after case in which the labs work was dangerously sloppy or just plain wrong and may have been sending the innocent to prison while letting the guilty go free. As a result of those broadcasts, at the end of the week the Houston Police Department declared they would have a team of independent scientists audit the lab and its procedures. However, the audit's findings were so troublesome that one month later,in mid- December, HPD closed the DNA section of the laboratory. Not only did the audit bolster KHOU's report but also found that samples were contaminated and the lab's files were very poorly maintained. The audit revealed that a section of the lab's roof was leaking into sample-containment areas, lab technicians were seriously undereducated or unqualified for their jobs, samples had been incorrectly tagged, and samples had been contaminated through improper handling. Worse, many people had been convicted and sent to prison based upon the evidence contained in the crime lab. The New York Times asked the question, "Worst Crime Lab in the Country?" in a March 2003 article .

Beginning in early 2003, the HPD Crime Lab began cooperating with outside DNA testing facilities to review criminal cases involving cases or convictions associated with Crime Lab evidence. However this again came as a result of some prompting investigatory work done by the tv station KHOU. Not long after their first broadcasts, reporters David Raziq, Anna Werner and Chris Henao got an e-mail from a local mother. She was desperate. She told them that her son, Josiah Sutton, had been tried for rape in 1999 and found guilty based upon HPD Crime Lab testing. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. So KHOU began to take an intensive look at the Sutton case. Raziq and Werner analyzed the HPD lab's DNA report with the help of DNA expert Bill Thompson of the University of California-Irvine. They found terrible and obvious mistakes in the report that the lab should have known about. When the reporters presented this new information to the local jurists who had helped convict Sutton, they were mortified. Not long after that broadcast, the HPD agreed to an immediate retest of the DNA evidence in the Sutton case. Those tests showed the DNA collected in the case did not belong to Sutton. He was released from prison in March 2003 and given a full pardon in 2004.

As a result of the scandal, nine Crime Lab technicians were disciplined with suspensions and one analyst was terminated. However, that analyst was fully reinstated to her previous position in January 2004, less than one month after her December 2003 termination. Many HPD supervisors and Houston residents called for more stringent disciplinary actions against the Crime Lab employees. However, the city panel responsible for disciplining the lab technicians repeatedly resisted these arguments and instead reduced the employees' punishments . Irma Rios was hired in 2003 as Lab Director, replacing Interim Lab Director Frank Fitzpatrick.

In May 2005, the Houston Police Department announced that with much effort and coordination on their part, they had received national accreditation through the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLD). The ASCLD stated that the lab had met or exceeded standards for accreditation in all areas except DNA . Through independent research and testing, it was determined in January 2006 that of 1,100 samples reviewed, 40% of DNA samples and 23% of blood evidence samples had serious problems . On June 11, 2007, the HPD crime lab reported its DNA section had gained full accreditation from ASCLD .

In the October 6, 2007 The Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
The Houston Chronicle is the largest daily newspaper in Texas, USA, headquartered in the Houston Chronicle Building in Downtown Houston. , it is the ninth-largest newspaper by circulation in the United States...

published allegations of Employees cheating on an open-book proficiency test.

Safe Clear

The Safe Clear program was implemented by Mayor Bill White on January 1, 2005 as a joint venture between the City of Houston and the Houston Police Department . The intention of the program was to decrease the freeway accidents and traffic jams that occurred due to stalled drivers. Select tow truck companies across the city were authorized to tow a stalled vehicle as soon as possible after being notified by an HPD officer. Persons having their vehicle towed were provided with a Motorist's Bill of Rights and were required to pay a sum to the City of Houston after the towing had taken place.

The program was initially very unpopular among Houston residents. Frequent complaints were that the program unfairly punished lower-income motorists by enforcing a high towing fee and that the program could potentially damage vehicles that required special tow trucks and equipment to be safely towed away. Other complaints were that stranded motorists did not have an option to choose their own garage. The City of Houston and the HPD addressed these concerns with program improvements that provided funds to pay for short tows that removed stalled vehicles from the freeway and then allowed drivers to choose their own garage and tow companies once they were safely off the freeway .

Studies released in February 2006 indicate that Safe Clear has been successful during its fledgling year. There were 1,533 less freeway accidents in 2005, a decrease of 10.4% since Safe Clear's implementation .

Red light cameras

In December 2004, Chief Hurtt (when he was the former chief of Oxnard, CA) stated that when the city of Oxnard installed their red light cameras, it has claimed that red light running decreased dramatically although the City of Houston was in the process of favoring red light camera enforcement.
The history of red light camera enforcement goes back to the 78th Texas Legislature where this measure was voted down although a transportation bill authored by a member of the Texas House of Representatives had an inclusion of red light camera enforcement. In December 2004, the Houston City Council unanimously voted for red light camera enforcement although Texas State Representative Gary Elkins (R-TX) introduced legislation to deter the City of Houston from amending its city charter for the city ordinance (i.e. red light cameras) to be enforced. This measure failed in the Texas Senate although in 2005, four intersections in Downtown Houston were used as testbeds for red light camera equipment. After a vending contract was approved, the enforcement went online September 1, 2006 to which those running a red light (there are 50 locations ) are fined a $75 civil fine as opposed to a $225 moving violation which goes against the vehicle operator.

There are 50 intersections with red light cameras in the City of Houston with 70 cameras (20 intersections were added where dual cameras were installed). A majority of them are located at a thoroughfare at a freeway intersection - primarily in the Galleria and Southwest Houston. During a recent Houston City Council meeting on 6.11.08, council member James Rodriguez suggested the installation of an additional 200 cameras.

A voter referendum during the 2010 Texas gubernatorial elections to eliminate red-light cameras passed. The referendum that passed in November 2010 was later invalidated by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes June 17, 2011 citing that the referendum violated the city charter despite the contract with American Traffic Solutions, which provided the camera equipment. The cameras are expected to be reactivated after midnight on July 24, 2011; plans are underway to have this judicial ruling heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Louisiana* Middle District of Louisiana...


Mobility Response Team

On July 2, 2007, mayor Bill White started a new program called the "Mobility Response Team".
This Task force, staffed by traffic enforcement officers will patrol within the loop
Interstate 610 (Texas)
Interstate 610 is a freeway that forms a forty-two-mile loop around the downtown sector of city of Houston, Texas. Interstate 610, colloquially known as "The Loop", "Loop 610", "The 610 Loop", or just "610", traditionally marks the border between the inner city of Houston and its surrounding areas...

 looking for, and being dispatched to, traffic problems. They will report traffic light
Traffic light
Traffic lights, which may also be known as stoplights, traffic lamps, traffic signals, signal lights, robots or semaphore, are signalling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings and other locations to control competing flows of traffic...

 outages, issue parking citations, help clear and direct traffic around minor accidents, or traffic jams during special events like concerts, shows, etc. in the Houston area. The duties will only involve surface streets
A street is a paved public thoroughfare in a built environment. It is a public parcel of land adjoining buildings in an urban context, on which people may freely assemble, interact, and move about. A street can be as simple as a level patch of dirt, but is more often paved with a hard, durable...

 and not the freeways and will be using scooters
Scooter (motorcycle)
A scooter is a motorcycle with step-through frame and a platform for the operator's feet. Elements of scooter design have been present in some of the earliest motorcycles, and motorcycles identifiable as scooters have been made from 1914 or earlier...

 and also police cruisers fitted with yellow flashing lights than the typical red and blue.

This is part of the Mayor's ongoing plan to improve mobility in Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

 and is the first of its kind in the United States. The city's mobility response team will cost $1.8 million a year to operate.

Overtime and "Hot Spot" patrol concentration

Hurtt to spend an $24 million on overtime pay through 2010. The money would continue to bolster an understaffed force as police commanders try to increase their ranks.
The overtime that is planned would be about equal to 500,000 police hours of which would help bolster various departments including, vice, Westside patrol and traffic enforcement, among other areas including a new 60-member crime reduction unit that will serve as a citywide tactical squad.

The police chief said the effort will put more officers to work immediately in troubled areas of the city such as Third Ward and Acres Homes, where the bodies of seven women have been found in the past two years.

The crime rate, particularly for violent offenses, since the latter part of 2005, when an influx of hurricane evacuees increased the city's population by more than 100,000, and incidents spiked in certain neighborhoods.


The Houston Police Department is headed by a chief of police
Chief of police
A Chief of Police is the title typically given to the top official in the chain of command of a police department, particularly in North America. Alternate titles for this position include Commissioner, Superintendent, and Chief constable...

, a law enforcement officer appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council of the City of Houston. This position is aided by four executive assistant chiefs of police and nine assistant chiefs of police. HPD headquarters, 1200 Travis
1200 Travis
1200 Travis is a 28-story building in Downtown Houston, Texas that is currently occupied by the Houston Police Department as its current headquarters. At one time it was known as the Houston Natural Gas Building. The building, with of rentable space, has a typical floor size of...

, are located in Downtown Houston
Downtown Houston
Downtown Houston is the largest business district of Houston, Texas, United States. Downtown Houston, the city's central business district, contains the headquarters of many prominent companies. There is an extensive network of pedestrian tunnels and skywalks connecting the buildings of the district...

. The current Chief of Police is C.A. McClelland, a former Executive Assistant Chief from the Houston Police Department.

HPD divides the city into 13 patrol divisions. Each division is divided into one or more districts and each district is divided further into one or more beats
A patrol is commonly a group of personnel, such as police officers or soldiers, that are assigned to monitor a specific geographic area.- Military :...

. Stations are operated and staffed 24 hours a day. HPD also operates 29 store front locations throughout the city. These store fronts are not staffed 24 hours a day, and generally open at either 7:00 or 8:00 AM, and close at 5:00 PM. Downtown Houston is patrolled by the Special Operations Division District 1, and the Houston Airport System
Houston Airport System
Houston Airport System is a department of the City of Houston, Texas, United States that manages city airports. Its administrative offices are on the property of George Bush Intercontinental Airport. It operates Bush, William P. Hobby Airport, and Ellington Airport in Houston.The city of Houston...

 facilities have their own divisions.

A map of all stations and store front locations can be found at the HPD web site: PDF map of stations, divisions, districts and beats.

Organizational chart

Office of the Chief of Police
  • Office of the Chief of Staff
  • Public Affairs Office
  • Neighborhood Protection Corps
  • Night Commander
  • Legal Services Office
  • Office of Budget & Finance
  • Administrative Operations
    • Crime Analysis and Command Center Division
    • Internal Investigations Command
      • Inspections Division
      • Internal Affairs/Central Intake Office
      • Office of Inspector General
    • Professional Development Command
      • Human Resources Division
        • Civilian Employment Unit
        • Psychological Services Unit
        • Recruiting Unit
      • Training Division
        • Cadet Training
        • Field Training Administration Office
        • In-Service Training
  • Patrol Operations
    • North Patrol Command
      • Airport Division (District 21 - George Bush Intercontinental Airport and District 23 - William P. Hobby Airport and Ellington Field
        Ellington Field
        Ellington International Airport is a joint civil-military airport located in the U.S. state of Texas within the city of Houston— southeast of Downtown. Established by the Army Air Service on 21 May 1917, Ellington Field was one of the initial World War I Army Air Service installations when...

      • Central Division (Districts 1 and 2)
      • Eastside Division (District 11)
      • Kingwood
        Kingwood, Houston, Texas
        Kingwood is a 14,000 acre master-planned community located in northeast Houston, Texas, United States. The majority of the community is located in Harris County with a small portion in Montgomery County...

         Division (District 24)
      • North Division (Districts 3 and 6)
      • Northeast Division (Districts 7, 8 and 9)
      • Northwest Division (Districts 4 and 5)
    • South Patrol Command
      • Clear Lake
        Clear Lake (region)
        Clear Lake, or the Clear Lake Area, is a region in parts of Harris and Galveston County in Texas, United States. It is part of the Galveston Bay Area, which itself is a section of the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area...

         Division (District 12)
      • Fondren Division (District 17)
      • Midwest Division (District 18)
      • Southeast Division (Districts 13 and 14)
      • South Central Division (District 10)
      • Southwest Division (Districts 15 and 16)
      • Westside Division (Districts 19 and 20)
  • Investigative Operations
    • Criminal Investigations Command
      • Auto Theft Division
      • Burglary & Theft Division
      • Homicide Division
        • Chicano Squad
        • Crime Scene Unit
        • Family Violence Unit
        • Sex Crimes Unit
      • Investigative First Responder
      • Juvenile Division
      • Robbery Division
    • Special Investigations Command
      • Criminal Intelligence & Homeland Security Division
      • Major Offenders Division
      • Narcotics Division
      • Gang Division
      • Vice Division
  • Support Operations
    • Crime Lab Division
    • Technology Services Division
    • Information Services Command
      • Communications Management Division
      • Emergency Communications Division
      • Fleet Management Division
      • Identification Division
      • Jail Division
      • Property & Supply Division
      • Records Division
    • Tactical Support Command
      • Special Operations Division (based in the northeast section of the George R. Brown Convention Center
        George R. Brown Convention Center
        The George R. Brown Convention Center opened on September 26, 1987 on the east side of Downtown Houston, Texas, United States.The center was named for the prominent Houstonian George R. Brown, an entrepreneur, civic leader and philanthropist. Brown’s Texas Eastern Corporation donated six of the 11...

        • Mounted Patrol Detail
        • Special Response Group
      • Tactical Operations Division
        • SWAT
        • Dive Team
        • K9 "Doggie" Detail
        • Bomb Squad
        • Hostage Negotiation Team
        • Crisis Intervention Team
      • Traffic Division
        • Air Support
        • Traffic Enforcement Unit
        • DWI Task Force
        • Truck Enforcement Unit
        • Radar Task Force
      • Vehicular Crimes Division
        • Accident Freeway Incident Detail
        • TranStar
        • Hit and Run Detail
        • Auto Dealers Detail
        • Solo Motorcycle Detail

Patrol Vehicles

The Houston police mainly utilize a large number of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Though the name has been officially in use since 1992, the 1978–1991 full-size LTDs and LTD Crown Victorias and 1992 updated body style used the "P72" production code designation for both fleet/taxi and police models, with the model itself being internally classified as S...

 as their main fleet of patrol vehicles. They have Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Though the name has been officially in use since 1992, the 1978–1991 full-size LTDs and LTD Crown Victorias and 1992 updated body style used the "P72" production code designation for both fleet/taxi and police models, with the model itself being internally classified as S...

 models from newest models of model year 2010 to the oldest of 1999. They also use pickup trucks like the big three, Chevrolet Silverado
Chevrolet Silverado
The Chevrolet Silverado , is the latest line of full-size pickup trucks from General Motors.-History:...

, Ford F150 , and Dodge Ram
Dodge Ram
The Dodge Ram is a full-size pickup truck manufactured by the Chrysler Group LLC. As of late 2010, it has been sold under the Ram Trucks brand. Previously, Ram was part of the Dodge lineup of light trucks...

 for their "truck enforcement" detail. There is also a small fleet of Dodge Charger
Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger is an American automobile manufactured by the Dodge division of Chrysler. There have been several different Dodge vehicles, built on three different platforms and sizes, all bearing the Charger nameplate...

, which are mainly use for the "stealth traffic patrol vehicles" which are plain white police cars with a slicktop roof, gray, reflective "Houston police" letters on the side and as well on the front bumper, and hidden emergency lights that are driven by uniformed officers. The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
Though the name has been officially in use since 1992, the 1978–1991 full-size LTDs and LTD Crown Victorias and 1992 updated body style used the "P72" production code designation for both fleet/taxi and police models, with the model itself being internally classified as S...

 is also used in the "stealth traffic patrol vehicle". For solos the officers use a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Air Support

The Houston Police helicopter division celebrated its 40th anniversary of airborne law enforcement in 2010. The unit was first formed in 1970 with three leased Schweizer 269B helicopters. Since that time Houston has flown almost exclusively Schweizer or MD helicopters.

In 2008 the Houston Police Department acquired new MD500E helicopters. The department also has Schweizer 300 helicopters for training. The Air Support unit has a total fleet of 10 or more helicopters.

Houston is the largest city in Texas with a 2008 population of 2.2 million in a 600 square miles (1,554 km²) area. The helicopter division patrols about a 700 square miles (1,813 km²) area. Houston Police have two helicopters in the air for up to 21 hours a day.
All pilots and Tactical Flight Officers are sworn Houston police officers.

The City of Houston is committed to airborne law enforcement and establishes the Houston Police Department as a leader in law enforcement aviation. As of 2010, The Houston Police Department's air support division is quickly set to become the second largest municipal police air support unit in the country.


All Houston police officers now carry .40 (S&W)
.40 S&W
The .40 S&W is a rimless pistol cartridge developed jointly by major American firearms manufacturers Winchester and Smith & Wesson. The .40 S&W was developed from the ground up as a law enforcement cartridge designed to duplicate performance of the FBI's reduced velocity 10mm cartridge which could...

 caliber semi-automatic handguns as their main duty weapon. They are also armed with X26 tasers. Tenured officers whose guns are "grandfathered
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

 in" are still allowed to carry their weapons after the mandated .40 (S&W) requirement. The Chief, Charles McClelland
Charles McClelland
Charles A. McClelland, Jr. is the current police chief of the Houston Police Department . Joining the department in May 1977, McClelland worked his way up through the ranks, from rookie to assistant chief in 1998, before being asked to step in as acting chief...

, carries a Colt 1911 Mk. IV Government Model as his sidearm. The Houston Police SWAT unit operates several kinds of automatic weapons, and was the first local law enforcement agency in the United States to adopt the FN P90
FN P90
The FN P90 is a selective fire personal defense weapon designed and manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. The P90's name is taken from 1990, the year it was introduced...


The Academy and field training

The Houston Police Department operates a non-residential, Monday through Friday police academy from which all cadets must graduate in order to become Houston police officers.

There are currently full-length academy classes for those cadets that have not been commissioned as peace officers within the previous year to applying with HPD. These cadet classes typically last approximately six months and consist of the basic peace officer course as required by the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) and HPD specific instruction.

Lateral classes are typically in the academy for half as long as regular cadet classes. These lateral cadets are already TCLEOSE certified or have the equivalent out-of-state certification. They require mostly supplemental HPD instruction in order to graduate.

All cadets, whether regular or lateral, are required to pass HPD instruction in academics, firearms, driving, physical training, and defensive tactics.

Academy class ranking plays a significant part in determining which training station newly-minted Probationary Police Officers (PPOs) will be sent to in order to complete the Field Training Program.

The following patrol stations are considered training stations:
  • Clear Lake
  • Central
  • Eastside
  • Midwest
  • North
  • Northeast
  • South Central
  • Southeast
  • Southwest/Fondren
  • Westside
  • Northwest

The following patrol stations are not considered training stations:
  • Airport
  • Kingwood

The Field Training Program consists of six phases which occur in the following sequence:
  • Phase 1 – Three weeks of training on day shift.
  • Phase 2 – Three weeks of training on evening or night shift.
  • Phase 3 – Three weeks of training on evening or night shift.
  • Phase 4 – Two weeks of evaluation with one week of evaluation on evening shift and one week on night shift.
  • Phase 5 – Remedial training.
  • Phase 6 – Re-evaluation.

PPOs that successfully complete Phase 4 are not required to continue onto Phase 5 and 6. PPOs that are required to continue onto Phase 5 are given remedial training in the category or categories that they are deemed deficient in. If a PPO fails Phase 5, they are disqualified from becoming a police officer, and must reapply to the department. Phase 6 is required to ensure that they have corrected the deficiency.

The probationary period for PPOs last for one year from the date that they were hired on as cadets. At the one year point, officers become civil service protected.


These are the ranks of the Houston Police Department:
Rank Insignia
Chief of Police
Executive Assistant Chief of Police
Assistant Chief of Police
Police Captain
Police Lieutenant
Police Sergeant
Senior Police Officer
Police Officer N/A

Moreover, those with the rank of sergeant or above are issued gold badges whereas officers are issued silver badges.

After 12 years of service and obtaining a Master Peace Officer certification, an officer becomes a senior officer, which is a non-supervisory rank. Promotion to sergeant through captain all occur via a civil service formula that factors into account performance on the civil service written examination for the respective rank, assessment score, length of service, and education of the HPD member. Assistant chiefs of police and executive assistant chiefs of police are appointed by the chief of police with the approval of the mayor.

Fallen officers

Since the establishment of the Houston Police Department, 111 officers have died in the line of duty. The following list also contains officers from the Houston Airport Police Department and the Houston City Marshal's Office, which were merged into HPD.
The causes of death are as follows:
Cause of death Number of deaths
Automobile accident
Gunfire (Accidental)
Heart attack
Motorcycle accident
Struck by vehicle
Vehicle pursuit
Vehicular assault


Breakdown of the makeup of the rank and file of HPD
  • Male: 88%
  • Female: 12%

  • White: 60%
  • African-American/Black: 19%
  • Hispanic: 18%
  • Asian: 3%

Joe Campos Torres

Joe Campos Torres (1954 - May 5, 1977) was a 23-year-old Vietnam Veteran had been arrested at an Eastside bar for disorderly conduct where Six police officers took Torres to a spot called “The Hole” next to Buffalo Bayou and beat him.

The officers then took Torres to the city jail, where they were ordered to take him to the hospital. Instead of taking Torres to the hospital like they were told, the officers brought him back to the banks of Buffalo Bayou, where he either jumped or was pushed into the water. Torres’ body was found two days later.

Chad Holley Beating

Chad Holley was an Elsik High School sophomore
Sophomore is a term used in the United States to describe a student in the second year of study at high school or university.The word is also used as a synonym for "second", for the second album or EP released by a musician or group, the second movie of a director, or the second season of a...

 at the time of his arrest as an alleged burglary suspect, which was preceded by, what some say , was an abuse by HPD. He was eventually found guilty and sentenced to probation until he turned 18. The incident also resulted in 12 officers disciplined, fired, or charged. All appealed the decisions.


Breakdown of the types of academic degrees held by HPD members:
  • Associate's Degree: 311
  • Bachelor's Degree: 1750
  • Master's Degree: 575
  • Doctorate Degree: 46

  • Total number of members with a degree: 2,682

Numeric-only Identifiers

  • 9xxS SWAT
  • 14xx Homicide
  • 16xx Robbery
  • 17xx Fugitive Unit
  • 18xx Mayor's Protection Detail
  • 20xx Dignitary Protection
  • 23xx Vice
  • 28xx Radio Shop
  • 36xx City Wreckers
  • 55xx Gang Division Crime Reduction Unit
  • 87xx Narcotics
  • 88xx Narcotics

Alphanumeric Identifiers

  • x-Y-xx Special Operations Patrol (Downtown, Parks, Special Events)
  • x-Y-xx-T Special Operations Patrol (Downtown and Parks) Power Shift
  • 30-T-xx Traffic Enforcement Special Details
  • 3x-x-xx Special Event Details
  • 40-T-xx Traffic Enforcement Special Details
  • 4x-x-xx Special Event Details
  • 50-Z-xx DWI Task Force
  • 60-T-xx Traffic Enforcement
  • 70-Z-xx Auto Accident Investigators (Mobility Units)
  • 71-Z-xx Truck Enforcement Unit
  • 73-K-xx Canine
  • 75-Z-xx Mobility Response Team ("Scooters")
  • 86-M-xx City Marshals - Municipal Court
  • 90-x-xx Patrol Division Tactical Units
  • 91-M-xx City Marshals - Warrants ("Field Units")
  • 91-x-xx Patrol Division Tactical Units
  • 92-x-xx Patrol Division Tactical Units
  • 96-Z-xx DWI Task Force
  • 99-Z-xx Motorcycles

See also

External links

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