Tragically in 1930, two officers were killed in the line of duty during the famous Touchy Furniture Store robbery. Officers found that .38 caliber bullets fired at the fleeing suspects did not penetrate their vehicles. With the inability of their current firearms to penetrate the vehicles, HPD ordered more powerful .44 caliber Smith & Wesson revolvers.
The year had some positives for HPD, however:
- The third substation, North Side, was opened.
- The Homicide Division was created.
- The first in-service police school was created.
- Percy Heard was sworn in as Superintendent of Police.
- Two Thompson Machine guns were purchased for the apprehension of “desperate criminals.”
- 425 Special officers (Reserves) were sworn in and appointed by the Mayor.
- The first “Shadow Box” was installed so victims could view the prisoners without being observed themselves.
The Year of DPS
In 1933, the Police and Fire departments briefly merged to form the Department of Public Safety. Also during this year, the first two-way radio transmission took place via the newly established police radio station KGZB.
Improvements in HPD
Although 1934 was still in the midst of the Depression, HPD was growing steadily. The budget increased to $560,000 and the number of officers had grown to 346. Also in 1934, Chief Payne instituted a weekly firearm inspection for his officers.
1936: HPD Gets Its License
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) named HPD as one of the first five police departments in the United States to be licensed.
The Class of ’39
In 1939, HPD established the first police academy class. The class was five weeks in length and held at the Sam Houston Coliseum. The first written intelligence test was administered to 597 applicants and only 362 passed with a grade of 70 or above. One of the questions asked on the test and is still asked on today’s test is “Why do you want to be a police officer?” Out of the 362 applicants that passed the test, 50 were selected to attend the first academy. On August 16, 1939 the first class graduated and was referred to as the “Class of ’39.”