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LEMIT Survey Gives Insight Into Texas’s Top Cops

July 10, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Beth Kuhles

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The latest cohort of new chiefs class to graduate from LEMIT serves to reinforce the statistics for Texas police chiefs as determined by a recent SHSU survey. —Submitted photo

A survey of Texas police chiefs at Sam Houston State University will help develop training programs at its Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, produce scholarly research and create an ongoing database of information on top law enforcement administrators in the state.

“Texas Chiefs of Police: Preliminary Findings from Attendees of the Texas Police Chiefs Leadership Series” examined Texas police chiefs’ demographics, backgrounds and agency characteristics; how chiefs rate crises and disasters; an assessment of organizational goals and institutional environment; and cosmopolitanism, non-governmental organization memberships and types of contacts with those organizations.

The team of College of Criminal Justice researchers, including associate professor William King and doctoral students Matt Matusiak and Kim Chism, recently presented their preliminary findings on the demographics of Texas police chiefs and their ratings of serious situations they may face in office. The survey was completed by attendees of the Texas Police Chiefs Leadership Series, a state-mandated development program required biennially for all top administrators at small and medium-sized departments.

In the first year of the study, based on 245 police chiefs who attended the leadership series between the fall of 2011 and April 2012, the mean age of top law enforcement administrators was 51.7 years old, a large majority of whom were male (96.7 percent), white (82.6 percent), and married (86.9 percent). Latinos represented about 9.5 percent of the law enforcement leaders, with blacks representing 5.4 percent and Native Americans representing 1.7 percent in the top post.

The survey results revealed that approximately 92 percent of Texas police chiefs have attended college and/or earned degrees, with about 18 percent with a bachelor’s, about 29 percent with a master’s or graduate certificate and 1 percent with a doctorate.

More than one-quarter of the police chiefs had prior military experience (27.8 percent) and their mean years in law enforcement was nearly 26 years. More than 45 percent had been selected as chief from inside their current agency.

Nearly three-quarters of participants (73.7 percent) came from local enforcement agencies, while nearly 15 percent were from independent school districts, about 10 percent were from special districts, and about 1 percent were from state agencies.

On average, the chiefs commanded 38 full-time and three part-time staff, including officers and civilian employees. However, most agencies surveyed had 10 full-time staff or less.

The police chiefs were asked to rate a list of possible critical incidents and situations their agencies may encounter, the top five of which included active shootings, murder/homicide, hostage situations, Amber Alerts, and evacuations due to natural disasters.

Finally, police chiefs were asked about their affiliations with professional, law enforcement oriented organizations. Among the top organizations with the greatest membership of Texas Police Chiefs are the Texas Police Chiefs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, and the National Association Citizens on Patrol.



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