HISD Police Department hosts candidate screening event

About 35 candidates set out on Tuesday to prove they have just what it takes to serve with HISD’s Police Department.

The department held the latest candidate screening event at its headquarters in hopes of selecting the best applicants for police officers, security officers, and police dispatcher personnel.

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Before making it to the screening process, all participants were pre-screened to meet the minimum qualifications. Candidates were then split into three groups based on the position they applied for to begin an intensive 4- to 5-hour day, beginning with a formal interview.

“This process allows us to hire the best candidates who apply,” said HISD police Sgt. Richard Morris. “It’s very time consuming, but we’re very careful in who we eliminate and who we allow to advance in the process.”

Candidates are also given a combination of “pass or fail” tests to review their ability to multitask, including reading, writing, comprehension, basic math, and a polygraph and psychological test. While many may not understand why the hiring process is so extensive for a school district, the department doesn’t take its role in protecting the district’s schools lightly.

The department pushes all applicants to understand the seriousness and importance of maintaining a safe environment across the district based on their mission: “To ensure an environment where students feel safe to learn, employees feel safe to work and the community is confident in the safety of the district.”

“Our goal is to create a big enough pool where we can hire the very best applicant,” Assistant Police Chief Michael Benford said. “We really want the very best.”

Although the department is in need of security officers and dispatchers, HISD is also focusing on recruiting new police officers. In order to qualify, police candidates will need 30 college hours and two years of full-time experience in law enforcement or military.

“Based on our need, we are always going to be moving forward,” Benford said. “We pretty much hire year around.”

The day ends with a physical agility test for police and security guard applicants at Barnett Stadium. For police candidates, their test consists of a physical obstacle course that must be completed within a time period. Many of the applicants in this round have prior law enforcement and military backgrounds, coming from Houston PD, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Corrections, Army and Navy.

“It’s like a competition, and the applicants get to see who they’re up against, so they have to sell themselves,” Morris said. “We like to see how they respond to certain scenarios and situations.”

In the end, 11 police candidates made it through the entire process and will go on to the final hiring stage. The selection process is not necessarily fast, but the department takes pride in knowing every application submitted never goes unnoticed.

“We don’t disqualify anyone. People disqualify themselves,” Lt. James Bridges said. “We’re dealing with America’s most precious commodity, [and] that’s the children.”

To apply for Houston Independent School District Police Department or for more information, visit houstonisd.org/careers.