As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 3.4 million (a 2005 estimate placed the population at almost 3.7 million), making it the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States. Its county seat is Houston. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has approximately 3,500 employees and is the largest sheriff’s office in the state of Texas and the third largest in the nation. The number one and two largest sheriff’s offices in the nation are respectively the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in California and the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Illinois.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency in the 1,118 square miles of unincorporated area of Harris County, serving as the equivalent of the county police for the approximately 1,071,485 people living in the unincorporated areas of the county. In Texas, sheriffs and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with county-wide jurisdiction and thus, may legally exercise their authority in unincorporated and incorporated areas of their county; they primarily provide law enforcement services for only the unincorporated areas of a county, while yielding to municipal police or city marshals to provide law enforcement services for the incorporated areas. All peace officers in Texas; whether Sheriff's, city police, State Troopers, constables or Marshals have state-wide arrest powers for any criminal offense committed within their presence or view.
The jurisdiction of the Harris County Sheriff's Office often overlaps with several other law enforcement agencies, among them the Texas Department of Public Safety (Highway Patrol), the eight Harris County Constable Precincts, and several municipal police agencies including the city of Houston Police Department. The duties of a Texas sheriff generally include keeping the county jail, providing bailiffs for the county and district courts within his county and serving process issued by said courts, and providing general law enforcement services to residents. The current sheriff of Harris County, Tommy Thomas, has been in office since 1995.
Internal Affairs Division
Public Information Office
PATROL SUPPORT SERVICES BUREAU
Traffic Enforcement Division
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit
Crime Control Division/Hot Spot Unit
Park Patrol Division
Motorist Assistance Program (M.A.P.)
Sex Crimes Unit
Burlgary & Theft
Criminal Warrants Division
Covert Operations Division - Narcotics/Vice Unit
Sex Crimes Offenders Registration
1200 Baker Street Jail
701 San Jacinto Street Jail
1307 Baker Street Jail
PUBLIC SERVICES BUREAU
Prisoner Logistics Command
Inmate Processing Center
FIELD OPERATIONS SUPPORT SERVICES BUREAU
Investigative Support Division
Crime Scene Unit
SUPPORT SERVICES BUREAU
HUMAN RESOURCES BUREAU
Recruiting and Background Investigations
Family Assistance Unit
Uniform Supply and Inventory Control
HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU
|Sergeant Supervisor / Sergeant Investigator|
|Detention Officer / Jailor|
Those with the rank of sergeant and above are issued gold badges. Deputies are issued silver badges. Detention officers (jailers) wear white uniform shirts with no badge. Academy cadets wear a white uniform shirt with a cloth badge.
Promotion to the ranks of sergeant through captain are made via a civil service testing process that includes a written exam and an oral review board. Chief deputies and majors are appointed by the sheriff.