How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Houston
Police Department

Though Houston is one of the largest cities in Texas with a population of about 2.2 million, it is considered much safer than other major cities such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Miami, Florida, and Detroit, Michigan. Patrol officers and detectives with the Houston Police Department are credited with helping keep their city as safe as possible.

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According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2012 there were 21,610 violent crimes reported to Houston peace officers. The categories of crimes reported are as follows:

  • Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter: 217
  • Forcible rape: 665
  • Robbery: 9,385
  • Aggravated assault: 11,343

Houston, like many other cities, has a fairly significant rate of property crimes such as burglary and theft. In 2012, city police officers took 107,678 property crime reports.

Detectives working with either the Houston Police Department or the Texas Department of Public Safety usually have the most active role in investigations of all types of crimes within the city.

Becoming a Detective with the Houston Police Department

Even experienced law enforcement officers must first enter the Houston Police Department as patrol officers. After three years of satisfactory service, city police officers are eligible for a variety of promotions including those to detective positions.

Education and Experience Requirements – Applicants must have at least 48 semester hours of college credit with a 2.0 GPA.

The college education requirements are waived for those who have served at least 18 months in the United States Armed Forces or worked for at least five years as a full-time peace officer in Texas or another state.

General Requirements – Successful applicants for police officer positions in Houston must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between 20.5 and 44 years of age at the time of application (At least 21 years old but no older than 45 years old upon graduating from the police academy)
  • A Texas Class C driver’s license or its equivalent from another state.
  • A valid auto insurance policy.
  • A credit report free of any unpaid collection accounts.

Candidates that meet all the job requirements will be expected to:

  • Pass a thorough background check, which includes review of employment history and any criminal records
  • Pass a medical exam, which includes physical fitness and vision testing
  • Pass a reading comprehension test

Disqualifying Factors – Applicants with any of the following will not be considered for candidature with the Houston Police Department:

  • Any felony or Class A misdemeanor convictions
  • A Class B misdemeanor conviction within the last 10 years
  • Former military personnel who have been court martialed must not have been convicted of any offense higher than a summary
  • Tattoos or other body art that cannot be covered by a Houston Police Department uniform (The applicant must be willing to have any visible tattoos or other body art removed in order to be considered for employment)
  • Monocular vision, insulin-dependent diabetes, any seizure disorder, or significant hearing loss

Units in the Houston Police Department Criminal Investigative Operations Division

Detectives within the Houston Police Department may work in one of the following specialty units within the Criminal Investigative Operations Division:

  • Auto Theft
  • Bomb Squad
  • Homicide
  • Juvenile
  • Missing Persons
  • Major Offenders
  • Narcotics
  • Robbery
  • Vehicular Crimes
  • Vice

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