Today in Texas History – November 24

From the Annals of Law Enforcement – In 1835, the Republic of Texas authorized a special law enforcement unit known as the Texas Rangers. Stephen F. Austin had hired ten experienced frontiersmen as “rangers” as early as 1823, but the 1835 legislation formalized the organization.  The Rangers have a mixed history at best.  They were instrumental in securing the early Republic, but at the expense of various Indian tribes who had claims to the land and not all of whom were aggressive warriors like the Comanche and Kiowa.   The Rangers  were also employed to restore order during various blood feuds, border disturbances, and civic upheavals. In the early twentieth century, however, certain renegade Rangers abused their positions of authority predated on Hispanics, African-Americans and other powerless groups.  The force was decimated in 1933 when Gov. Ma Ferguson dismissed the entire squad in an overt act of political retaliation for the Rangers open support of her opponent Ross Sterling.  When the Department of Public Safety was created in 1935, the Rangers took on a new role.  Today they are recognized as an elite unit of 150 commissioned officers drawn from the ranks of DPS officers with at least 8 years of law enforcement experience.  Prospective Rangers undergo rigorous selection, testing and the position requires specialized training.  Their responsibilities include major incident crime investigations, unsolved crime/serial crime investigations, public corruption investigations, officer involved shooting investigations, and border security operations.

 

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