Testing Begins

BHPD department revised its applicant examination in 1920 to cover testing of a police officer’s duties and responsibilities. Items tested included arrest procedures, taking of evidence and circumstances in which the use of firearms was permissible. Results revealed that most applicants had inadequate education in police procedures, but no minimum score on the test was set in order to become a police officer.

1921: Year of Changes

By 1921, the Houston population had grown to 177,920 and the city installed its first traffic signal. It was operated manually by a squad of 22 officers. That same year, the title of Chief of Police was changed to Superintendent of Police and the Police Burial Fund was established. The fund cost officers 50 cents per month and paid out a $200 benefit. The benefit was later raised to $500.

The First Substation

On October 19, 1926, HPD opened its first substation called Magnolia Park near the ship channel. Because this was during the era of Prohibition, The officers at this substation were kept busy dealing with liquor violations. In the first year of Magnolia Park’s operation, officers seized and destroyed approximately 142 gallons of whiskey and more that 9,000 bottles of beer.

1927: What a Year!

In 1927, the first Mounted Traffic Squad was established and the first automatic traffic signals were installed. The first car radio was tuned to KPRC, the only radio station in Houston.

1929: Chief McPhail Takes a Stand

The Houston Chronicle reported that the position of policewoman was abolished because the Police Chief McPhail believed “a woman on the police force is unnecessary.” The position of matron was deemed more appropriate since it had no arrest powers.

1929: First Crime Statistics Reported

Burglaries 392
Murders 50
Robbery by Firearms 50
Robbery for Assault 26
Thefts 904