Editorial: HPD college degree holders have increased substantially Over last nine years – now number 67 percent of officers

Tom Kennedy

NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT THE Houston Police Department is not one of the best-educated and highly-trained departments in the United States.

The Badge & Gun is trying to lay claim to the “best” designation but has to take a few more steps to make that possible.

The best point for “best educated” comes from data supplied by the HPD Police Academy showing that two out of every three officers have at least one college degree, associate arts and above. We well recognize that the 60 hours of college credit requirement greatly enhanced this data and has resulted in a percentage increase of 51 to 67 in the past nine years.

The B&G has an ongoing project comparing education (college degree holders) and annual in-service training requirements in HPD compared to the departments in the nation’s three larger cities, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The data gathering has entailed the filing of a Freedom of Information Act request for Chicago as well as the request working its way up the police bureaucracies in New York and Los Angeles.

Unofficial sources consulted in these three departments strongly indicate that the HPD 40-hour in-service requirement over a one-year period “probably” leads the nation.

The HPD college record brings positive attention to Union-negotiated benefits that include college tuition reimbursement and step pay for holders of bachelor’s ($140 per paycheck), master’s ($240 per paycheck) and doctorate/law degree ($340 per paycheck. As HPOU President Joe Gamaldi puts it – the department pays you to go to college and pays you after you go – when you earn your college degree.

Stay tuned. We hope our data requests from the other departments come in soon so we will be able to get a better comparison and – hopefully – lay claim to being the best-educated, best-trained department in America.