Tag Archives: Texas Department of Public Safety

Today in Texas History – August 10

From the Annals of the State Police – In 1935, the Texas legislature established the Texas Department of Public Safety.  As the name implies, the function of the agency was to provide for public safety meaning primarily crime prevention and investigation.  The DPS was under the oversight of the three-member Public Safety Commission who were appointed by Gov. James Allred.  The Commission hired the director and assistant director who were responsible for day-to-day operations.  The original DPS was organized into six divisions: the Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Rangers, Bureau of Communications, Bureau of Intelligence, Bureau of Education, and Bureau of Identification and Records. The DPS is still in business today with its headquarters on N. Lamar in Austin.

Today in Texas History – April 22

From the Annals of the Police State –  In 1873, the Texas state legislature – once again in the hands of the then reactionary and racist Democratic Party –  repealed the law that had authorized the State Police.  The TSP had been formed during the administration of Governor Edmund J. Davis to combat crime during Reconstruction and the force worked primarily against racially based crimes.  Even worse for the unreconstructed Texans was the fact that the force included black police officers.  The TSP were replaced by the reformed Texas Rangers.  The state would not have another police force until the creation of the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1935.  The DPS would not have a black trooper until Adolph Thomas graduated from the DPS Academy in 1969.

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.