With a population of 2.24 million as of 2014, Houston is classified among one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US. As it continues to expand, the need for a bigger and effective police force grows. This is good news for anyone who wished to become a police officer in Houston. Like other cities, the Houston Police Department has several strict requirements for aspiring police officers. All applicants must follow these steps to become a part of the Houston PD. Let’s take a look at how you can become a police officer in Houston.

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Requirements for Houston Police Department

To be eligible to apply to the Houston Police Department, all candidates must meet a basic set of requirements. These are as follows:

General US citizen or permanent resident who is eligible and has applied for US citizenship before the application process
Age Requirement Between 20.5 and 44 years – applicants should be 21 before graduating from the academy and should not have turned 45 before the graduation
Education (See Section Below)
License A valid driver’s license
Criminal Record No applicant should have been convicted or received community supervision for a Class A Misdemeanor or a felony.
In addition to that, applicants should not have been convicted for a class B misdemeanor within the past 10 years
Credit History All candidates should have a stable credit history and employment records. Any accounts in collection should be cleared before applying for the Houston PD

In addition to these requirements, candidates applying to the Houston PD may not have tattoos that cannot be covered up by the city police uniform. If you have such tattoos and are not willing to get them removed, you will not be considered for the job. Driving records for applicants should be relatively clean and they must pass a comprehensive background check and polygraph test.

Educational Requirements for the Houston Police Department

For educational requirements, candidates should have at minimum 48 hours of college credits from an accredited institution. The minimum GPA is 2.0 and developmental or remedial classes do not get counted towards the required 48 hours.

If not this, then they should have served as an active member of the US military for at least 18 months with an honorable discharge or should have at least five years of work experience as a licensed peace officer. The licensing agency should be the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) or an equivalent organization from another state.

The Application Process for Houston PD

The entire application process will take around 90 days to complete. Applicants not living in the state will be required to make a trip to Houston to complete the application process. You will need to follow these steps to become a police officer in Houston:

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How Do You Become a Police Officer in Houston

Step 1: Submit the required documents and schedule an interview – The application packet requires 19 original documents in addition to photocopies. These documents include the following:

  • Original certified birth certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics
  • High School Diploma, along with a certified high school transcript
  • Certified college transcript from all colleges attended (these need to be sealed)
  • Original college degree
  • Original naturalization papers
  • Original US Military DD-214 for all past and current military duty
  • Original US Military NGB-22
  • Original divorce petition and Final Divorce Decree
  • Valid driver’s license with the current address
  • Original social security card
  • Original proof of auto liability insurance
  • Maps for addresses (using P.O. Box Routes)
  • TCOLE Peace Officer’s License
  • Peace Officer Report
  • An updated credit report from the Credit Bureau Services (this should not be older than 30 days)
  • Last two pay check stubs
  • Physical agility self-evaluation form
  • Personal history statement
  • Printed copy of the NeoGov City of Houston Application – available on the official website for the Houston PD

Once you have submitted this pack of 19 documents, you will need to schedule an interview. Dress in proper business attire for the interview. The interview is conducted in Milam, Houston, and would take around 2-3 hours.

Step 2: Reading Comprehension Test – Take a reading comprehension test and meet a recruiting investigator. This step will take around 4-5 hours.

Step 3: The Physical Agility Test –This test would require candidates to complete the following set of exercises in the defined time frames:

  • 1.5 mile run in 17:30 minutes or less
  • Vertical jump, 16.5 inches or more
  • 300 meter sprint, 78 seconds or less
  • Push-ups, 15 or more
  • Weapons compatibility, 6 trigger pulls with each hand
  • Agility run, 20 seconds or less

Step 4: Polygraph Test and Final Interview – This step will take 4 hours approximately. The polygraph examination will be followed by a final interview at the HPD Recruiting Office. You will be required to wear professional clothing.

Step 5: Background Check – A comprehensive check will be conducted on your personal background, comprising of information regarding your family, employment, financial, credit and residential history.

Step 6: Psychological and Medical Exam – During this step, you will be scheduled for a psychological and medical exam. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, do bring them in for this appointment. This step will take approximately 11-12 hours. 7 hours are required for the medical exam, while 4-5 hours would be needed for the psychological exam.

Step 7: Final Review and Chief of Police Approval – Once you have cleared all previous steps, your application file will be put through a final review process. It will then be submitted to the Chief of Police for the final approval.

All these seven steps are necessary to clear if you want to become a police officer in Houston. Following this, you will be placed into the Police Training Academy for training. Your placement into the Academy would also depend on the availability of positions in the cadet classes already scheduled.

Salary & Job Growth: Comparative Analysis

The above-mentioned statistics are taken from O*NET OnLine. The median salary figures hold true for the year 2016. While the projected job growth rate is for the period 2014-2024.

Job Title Salary (Texas) Salary (US) Job Growth (Texas) Job Growth (US)
Police Patrol Officer $60,110 $59,680 19% 5%

Police Education and Training

With every passing day, it is becoming more and more important for aspiring police officers to obtain a college degree. It is perceived to be in public interest that new police officer cadets have at least an associate degree in criminal justice or a related field for better critical and analytical thinking.

The Houston Police Department requires candidates to have a minimum 48-semester hours of credits in any related field from an accredited college, maintaining a grade point average of 2.0. In recent time, the department has adopted rigorous hiring policy ensuring that the most eligible candidates make it till the end. With a college degree in hand, police officer cadets have better chances to grow professionally, filling senior level positions.

Police Officer Training in Houston

The Houston Police Department Training Academy runs a tough 6-month program, during which the cadets are involved in academic learning as well as physical training. Considered a rigorous training program that involves full commitment, the academy doesn’t allow cadets to pursue any other employment while attending the academy.

After graduating from the academy, new police officers go on 6 months’ probation and are required to be a part of Field Training Officer (FTO) Program, which is for 12 to 16 weeks. Police officers are trained to use firearms, learn defensive techniques, surveillance, filing reports, how to respond to difficult situations, negotiation, use of force, and driving training.

Training Institutions for Police Officers in Houston

The Houston Police Department’s Training Academy prepares recruits for a career in law enforcement. The average time it takes to complete police officer training in Houston is 9 to 12 months. All the courses that are taught in the academy are approved by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) and it is important meet all the requirements. After passing out from the academy, new police officers can apply for license. Below are some certified academies in Houston that provide basic training to the police officers.

  1. Houston Police Academy

The academy doesn’t offer live-in facility and the candidates have to drive everyday to the vicinity, located at 17000 Aldine Westfield Road. A six-month program, it involves comprehensive academic learning and tough physical training.

  1. HCC Police Dept. Training

The HCC Police Department has the license to provide training to new officers and has the mandate granted by The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE).

  1. Houston I.S.D. Police Department

It follows a comprehensive training schedule, during which the cadets are required to take academic classes and undergo rigorous physical training.

  1. The University of Texas System Police Academy

Licensed by The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), the academy provides basic training to the police officer cadets. It follows a hybrid paramilitary and academic learning model.