Houston Police Department
The Houston Police Department, also known as HPD, is a municipal law enforcement agency that protects the city of Houston and surrounding Harris County. It is the fifth-largest municipal police department in the U.S. Founded in 1841, HPD serves over 2.2 million residents. Houston Police Department
In order to keep the peace, HPD encourages open communication and works cooperatively with the public. The department is staffed with over 5,300 officers, 1,200 civilian employees, and 1,200 support personnel.
The HPD is the largest municipal police department in Texas and is the primary law enforcement agency in the Houston area. HPD is a part of a joint venture called the "Safe Clear" program, which was started by Mayor Bill White in 2005 to improve freeway traffic and decrease the number of accidents on the highways.
Aside from the patrol, HPD also has an air support unit and helicopter division. The first SWAT squad was formed in 1975. These units have flown McDonnell Douglas and Schweizer-Hughes 269B helicopters. As of 2010, the division had flown 16 helicopters.
The department is led by a chief of police, who is appointed by the mayor. He is aided by ten assistant chiefs. Since 1999, the department has had a female chief of police, Elizabeth Watson.
The department is dedicated to upholding the democratic values of the United States. Officers are sworn to uphold these standards and are encouraged to display professionalism and concern for the community. Some of the uniformed officers carry Smith & Wesson M&P40.40 (S&W) caliber semi-automatic handguns and a SIG Sauer P226 pistol. They can also carry an AR-15 rifle.
The HPD operates a crime lab, which began cooperating with outside DNA testing facilities in early 2003. Following a scandal that occurred in the lab, nine technicians were suspended and one was fired. Despite calls for harsher punishments, a panel of the city's supervisors and administrators refused to implement them.
The Houston Police Department's headquarters building is located at 1200 Travis Street in Downtown Houston. It is home to a three-floor crime laboratory and a 24-hour emergency tactical command center. There is also a museum that features the department's history.
The HPD also operates a Mobility Response Team, which is a traffic enforcement program. Traffic enforcement officers assist in clearing minor accidents and helping to direct traffic around special events. They also report traffic light outages and help issue parking citations.
The Houston Police Department has its own school to train new officers. In addition, all pilots and tactical flight officers have sworn HPD officers.
The department has a fleet of vehicles that is capable of more than 300,000 miles with regular maintenance. Newer models of the patrol car feature a combination of black and white paint. On the rear, the patrol car is labeled HOUSTON POLICE.
In recent years, the HPD has upgraded some of its older squads. Squads are reassigned after reaching a certain mileage. Many patrol cars are converted into bait squads after the vehicle reaches 100,000 miles.