HPD Takes Flight

The Helicopter Patrol Division was formed with three leased helicopters in January, 1970. This became the largest helicopter patrol in the nation.

Other Events of 1970

The City Council approved the purchase of the first bulletproof vests for the department. Thirty vests were purchased at a cost of $157 each. The City Council also approved the hiring of 30 civilians to replace officers in clerical and telephone work.

The first in-house video training for in-service was established.

For the first time, officers were able to use scholarship funds from the 1969 Omnibus Crime Bill to attend colleges and universities. This increased the number of officers with bachelor’s degrees to 95.

The Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) established minimum appointment standards for applicants to become peace officers.


The Department formed the Special Weapons and Tactical Squad (SWAT)

The number of officers in the department increased to 2,541 and 698 civilians.

1977 Reaches Out

HPD announced that officers would begin to receive incentive pay for intermediate and advanced certificates issued by TCLEOSE.

The department established the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) whose first case included the beating and drowning of Jose “Joe” Campos Torres. Following the case, the department worked with Hispanic leaders, including Dr. Guadalupe Quienanilla, to develop closer community ties.

The department reinitiated the issuance of nightsticks or batons as a defensive weapon.

“Houstonians on Watch” and AFIS

The department announced a new neighborhood crime program in 1979 called “Houstonians on Watch”. The program combined police patrol with citizen awareness and concentrated on high-crime areas.

Also in 1979, HPD became one of the only five police departments in the country to have an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). This system was described as a computerized minutia-based fingerprint system, capable of storing approximately 375,000 criminal fingerprints. These records not only contained the fingerprints of criminals but also descriptive information and an additional 12,000 unidentified latent fingerprints.