There are over 270 city police departments, as well as 64 college and university and 63 independent school district police departments, in the state of Texas. Additionally, there are police departments that serve various hospitals, ports, transit systems, airports, and parks. Some of the departments operate their own jail or detention facilities, especially in larger metropolitan areas, while others use the county jail. Not every city has a police department; some contract with a neighboring city or their county sheriff’s department to provide law enforcement services within the incorporated area. Although city police generally have jurisdiction only within the city limits and county sheriff’s department officers tend to limit operations to unincorporated areas, many departments have a policy of mutual aid where they may operate within the other’s jurisdiction in times of need.
Police and other law enforcement officers in the state are licenced by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). The Commission provides basic training, continuing education, and licensing tests for patrol officers, as well as communications officers, chief administrative officers, detention officers, school marshals, and other law enforcement personnel. TCOLE also regulates all police academies in Texas.
Three departments in the state ranked in the top 25 largest police departments in the United States, as of 2011. The Houston Police Department ranked fifth in the nation, with 4,892 full time sworn officers who cover a geographical jurisdiction of more than 600 square miles. Dallas was eighth with 3,122, and San Antonio ranked 23rd with 1,795 full time law enforcement officers. Overall, there were 142 sworn officers for every 100,000 residents in the state.
In 2015, Texas became the first state to require police to report officer-involved shootings to the state attorney general. Every time an officer shoots someone or gets shot during an arrest or otherwise, the incident must be reported within 30 days, and the attorney general’s staff has 5 days to post the report online. Information required in the report includes the location of the shooting; gender, age, race, and ethnicity of both the officer(s) and citizen(s) involved; whether or not the person shot was armed with a gun; the reason officers used a gun; and how many officers were present at the time of the incident.
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