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Joanna Purl

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Blue Reality: From the Police Academy to Working the Streets
Joanna Purl  More Info

About the Houston Police Department

The Houston Police Department is organized into four main entities: Administrative Operations; Patrol Operations; Investigative Operations and Support Operations.  The Patrol Operations has the largest number of personnel and is divided into two commands: North Patrol Command and South Patrol Command.  The Investigative Operations are also divided into two commands: Criminal Investigations Command and Special Investigations Command.  The Criminal Investigations Command organizes the detectives like many police agencies, that is, by type of crime.  Detectives in the Criminal Investigations Command of the Houston Police Department work: Auto Theft; Burglary and Theft; Homicide; Juvenile and Robbery.  Because they are seen as more sensitive areas, major police departments tend to break out certain types of investigative functions under a specialized command, or with some specialized police command oversight.  Houston Police Department has chosen this path in its Special Investigations Command which is responsible for Criminal Intelligence; Gangs; Major Offenders; Narcotics and Vice.

 

The City of Houston was founded by Augustus and John Kirby Allen brothers in 1836 and incorporated as a city the next year, 1837. As the city quickly grew, so did the need for a cohesive law enforcement agency. It was in 1841 that the Houston Police Department was founded. The first HPD badge issued bore the number "1."

 

The early part of the 20th century was a time of enormous growth for both the City of Houston and for the Houston Police Department. Due to growing traffic concerns in downtown Houston, the HPD purchased its first automobile in 1910 and created its first traffic squad during that same year. Eleven years later, in 1921, the Houston Police Department  installed the city's first traffic light. This traffic light was manually operated until 1927, when automatic traffic lights were installed.

 

As Houston became a larger metropolis throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Houston Police Department found itself growing and acquiring more technology to keep up with the city's fast pace. The first homicide division was established in 1930. During that same year, the Houston Police Department purchased newer weapons to arm their officers: standard issue .44 caliber revolvers and two Thompson submachine guns. In 1939, the department proudly presented its first police academy class. The Houston Police Officers Association was created in 1945. This organization later became the Houston Police Officers Union.

 

Throughout the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, the Houston Police Department also experienced its own highs and lows. The first Houston Police Department bomb squad was created in 1966. The next year, 1967, saw massive riots at Texas Southern University. During the riots, one officer was killed and nearly 500 students were arrested. It was as a result of these riots that the still-active Community Relations Division was created within the Houston Police Department. In 1970, the Helicopter Patrol Division was created with three leased helicopters. That year also marked the department's first purchase of bulletproof vests for their officers. The Houston Police Department first Special Weapons and Tactical Squad (SWAT) was formed in 1975.

 

 

Sources:

houstontx.gov/police/

wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Police_Department

Police Officer Joanna Purl survived the training in the Police Academy and at the time her book was written (1997) worked the night shift in gang control. According to her publisher, “Joanna Purl has a talent for describing a scene in a manner that puts the reader IN HER SHOES. She writes in a light-hearted way about a very serious subject. Other times she is just purely funny. Like the description of the difficulty of going to the "ladies room" in full police officer uniform, with gunbelt, baton, flashlight, and all the rest. This book is for enjoyment, education, and general interest in the subject of law enforcement as a police officer. Any person, male or female, considering such a career will find this a fascinating portrayal of life behind the badge.”

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