HPD officers still among best educated in the nation

It might be a little presumptuous to contend that the Houston Police Department has the best trained and best educated police force in America.

But the department’s records make it clear that HPD can certainly be at the top of a league that includes the nation’s big-city police departments.

Last month, the Badge & Gun published information showing that HPD has few if any (possibly NYPD) peers amongst big-city PDs’ with more required annual training hours.

This month, we submit that the department may well have the highest percentage of college degree holders among police departments that include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Here are the latest facts from HPD:

A total of 3,262 officers, or 62.71 percent of HPD’s 5,202 classified officers, have at least one college degree – that is, at least a two-year associate arts diploma.

The total breakdown:

  • Associate Arts Degrees – 351
  • Bachelor’s Degrees – 2,033
  • Master’s Degrees – 826
  • Doctoral Degrees (including law degrees) – 52
  • TOTAL: 3,262 HPD degree holders

In this context, HPOU President Doug Griffith extended a reminder to every HPD officer: “The department will pay you to get a college degree. You earn tuition reimbursements as you pass each college course you take in a degree plan.”

Griffith pointed out that the reimbursement plan is based on the current tuition rates in a state school – in this case the University of Houston is the best example.

“You get the reimbursement after you complete the class. The department paid for my degree – a master’s degree in law enforcement from California Southern University. I did it online,” the Union president said.

Now comes another key element officers need to remember. A long-ago HPOU-negotiated benefit provides a stipend schedule for all officers hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Accordingly, the holder of a bachelor’s degree earns an additional $140 per paycheck, while a master’s degree holder earns an additional $240 and a doctorate-degree holder (including one with a law degree) receives and additional $340 per paycheck.

“There are plenty of incentives for you to go back to college,” Griffith said. “I talk to every cadet class and let them know they can get paid for getting a degree and get paid more after they have a degree under their belt.”

It’s safe to suggest that even officers not counted in the enclosed college-degree numbers likely have some college hours under their belts.

Griffith urged them to follow his advice and exercise the higher education benefits extended by the department.