How To Become a Police Officer in Harris County, Texas

To become part of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) in Texas means serving the over 3.4 million citizens that occupy the county. The HSCO is one of the largest departments in the United States, with a large number of applicants. The stringent process weeds out even the most qualified individuals. Only 3/4 of total recruits end up donning a badge.

Hiring Process

To join the HSCO, applicants should have a high school diploma or G.E.D or least 90 semester hours from an accredited college. Military experience of at least 3 years can replace the 90 hours for college degree. Veterans need an honorable military discharge to work for law enforcement.

The county states that applicants should be at least 21 years of age, with normal eyesight (at least correctable to 20/30 with contact lenses) and hearing. As per federal standards, interested applicants to become police officers should be legal US citizens or residents with permanent status. Given the large county area police officers will cover, they must also be able to apply for or possess a valid driver’s license.

Applicants will have to go through drug and alcohol screen to qualify. There is no maximum age limit in Texas. However, males must have a body fat composition of at least 17% while females must have a minimum of 23% body fat. This is needed for the rigorous Physical Abilities Test potential officers will take later on.

Police Written Exam

Applicants will have to take a written exam and pass it in order to move to the next part of the application process. Once the written exam has been completed, a job or panel interview will follow. This is completed before or after a deep background check. HSCO requires candidates for any jobs to go through a polygraph test to certify information. This involves a trained administrator hooking the candidate up to a polygraph machine to test the validity of statements and facts.

After a review process, the county will then begin a series of medical evaluations to see if the recruit is fit for the job. This includes the Texas Physical Abilities Test, which will test cardiovascular and aerobic endurance as well as strength. It is one of the hardest in the US. Medical and psychological evaluations will follow to guarantee the individual’s fitness and capability. Many people fail the psychological evaluation more than the physical one.

Police Training Academy

Once the HSCO applicant passes that, then it’s off to the police academy. The journey isn’t over yet. Recruits must pass the academy to become full-fledged officers. Until graduation, they are just recruits. Many applicants will realize that the arduous interview process was only the beginning.

The academy will be a combination of physical and mental training to prepare the officer for what he or she will have to face in the real world. This includes lectures, training, driving, firearm and other important courses to ensure survival. Many would-be cops drop out due to the sheer load of training and mental stress. Only about 1/2 make it to graduation. But once they do, they officially become sheriffs and officers of Harris County.