Texas Department of Public Safety

Last updated
Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas
TX - DPS Seal.png
MottoCourtesy, Service, Protection
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionTexas, USA
Size261,797 square miles (678,050 km2)
Population26,768,000 (2018 est) [1]
General nature
Headquarters5805 North Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas

Agency executives
  • Steven C. McCraw, Director
  • Randall B. Prince, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Operations
  • Freeman F. Martin, Deputy Director of Homeland Security Operations
  • Skylor Hearn, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Services
Texas DPS website

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is a department of the government of the state of Texas. DPS is responsible for statewide law enforcement and vehicle regulation. The Public Safety Commission oversees DPS. However, under state law, the Governor of Texas may assume personal command of the department during a public disaster, riot, insurrection, or formation of a dangerous resistance to enforcement of law, or to perform his constitutional duty to enforce law. [2] The commission's five members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate, to serve without pay for staggered, six-year terms. The commission formulates plans and policies for enforcing criminal, traffic and safety laws, for preventing and detecting crime, for apprehending law violators and for educating citizens about laws and public safety.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Governor of Texas head of state and of government of the U.S. state of Texas

The Governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature. The governor may grant pardons in cases other than impeachment or in the case of treason, with permission by the legislature. The current Governor is Greg Abbott.

Texas Senate

The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas State Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing single-member districts across the U.S. state of Texas, with populations of approximately 806,000 per constituency, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. Elections are held in even-numbered years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In elections in years ending in 2, all seats are up for election. Half of the senators will serve a two-year term, based on a drawing; the other half will fill regular four-year terms. In the case of the latter, they or their successors will be up for two-year terms in the next year that ends in 0. As such, in other elections, about half of the Texas Senate is on the ballot. The Senate meets at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The Republicans currently control the chamber, which is made up of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats.


The agency is headquartered at 5805 North Lamar Boulevard in Austin. [3]

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2018 estimate, Austin had a population of 964,254 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.


Due to increased traffic and the incremental damages caused by large trucks on the narrow state roads, the License and Weight Division was formed in March of 1927. These new inspectors, the State Police, working from motorcycles would enforce motor vehicle laws and regulations. The Texas Rangers would continue to conduct the State's law enforcement investigations.

As a result of higher crime rates, the Texas Legislature in 1931 enrolled Griffenhagen and Associates to conduct a study on the effectiveness of their law enforcement program. The firm concluded the great expanse of Texas was too much for the Rangers or the License and Weight Division to handle appropriately. The fact that the State Highway Patrol did not enforce felony charges gave too much responsibility to the Rangers, who were already overworked. The report also was negative toward Texas utilizing the National Guard for law enforcement along the border. Recommendations were made to accumulate the necessary finances to create a state law enforcement agency. Four bureaus, Administration, State Police, Rangers, and Fire Prevention were suggested to be created with the implementation of the new force.

Not completely satisfied with the report, the Texas Senate created a committee to conduct its own survey of the State’s law enforcement. As a result of the committee findings, on January 24, 1935 Senate Bill 146 was introduced. The bill created a Department of Public Safety housing the Rangers and the State Highway Patrol under one umbrella organization. The bill received final approval on February 18, 1935 and was sent to the House before finally ending up in a joint committee for final revisions. On May 3, 1935 the final bill was voted on and passed, but without two-thirds approval. [4]

On August 10, 1935 the formation of the Department of Public Safety along with 103 other bills were created by the Texas Legislature. [5] The newly formed department was the new home for the Texas Rangers, The Highway Patrol, and crime laboratory. [6]

While Governor James V. Allred signed Senate Bill 146 which created the DPS, it was the Legislature's responsibility of selecting three civilians as the Public Safety Commission. Selected were George W. Cottingham, Ernest R. Goens, and Albert Sidney Johnson. They in turn appointed Captain L.G. Phares as acting director and Homer Garrison Jr. as assistant director of the new agency. Phares was replaced by Colonel Horace H. Carmichael, who served until his death on September 24, 1938. Homer Garrison Jr. became the third director on September 27, 1938 and continued on as director for nearly 30 years until his death on May 7, 1968. Garrison made numerous improvements to the department during his storied career along with enhancing the training curriculum which was recognized by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. [7]

Col. Homer Garrison, Jr.jpg


DPS is divided into thirteen divisions:

Texas Highway Patrol

The Texas Highway Patrol is a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety and is the largest state-level law enforcement agency in the U.S. state of Texas. The patrol's primary duties are enforcement of state traffic laws and commercial vehicle regulation, but it is a fully empowered police agency with authority to enforce criminal law anywhere in the state. Highway patrol troopers are also responsible for patrolling the state Capitol Complex in Austin and providing security to the governor. The current Chief is Lieutenant Colonel Ron Joy.

Texas Ranger Division Texas law enforcement agency

The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a U.S statewide investigative law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, based in the capital city of Austin. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, acted in riot control and as detectives, protected the governor of Texas, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force at the service of both the Republic (1836–1845) and the state of Texas.

Administrative Services Division

The Administrative Services Division serves as the indirect staff to the director and provides information technology, law enforcement support, finance, administration, and regulatory licensing for the entire department.

The Administration Section maintains DPS property, provides training to other divisions, and operates the Crime Records Service. The Crime Records Service maintains criminal justice information and issues concealed handgun licenses.

Criminal Investigations Division

In 2009, the Department of Public Safety created the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) as part of a major restructuring of the department. The CID consists of 700 members, including 573 commissioned officers and 129 civilian support personnel. The CID Assistant Director's Office consists of the assistant director, deputy assistant director, an administrative major, and four civilian support personnel.

The CID is divided into four different sections, which are specialized by function:

The CID sections work together to prevent, suppress, and solve crime in cooperation with city, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Multi-jurisdictional violations typically investigated by CID include terrorism, gang-related organized crime, illegal drug trafficking, motor vehicle theft, gambling, public corruption, fraud, theft, and counterfeit documents.

Driver License Division

The Driver License Division is responsible for the issuing and revocation of Texas driver licenses and identification cards.

Emergency Management Division

The Emergency Management Division is responsible for coordinating statewide emergency planning and response. Typical emergencies are weather-related (hurricanes, floods, tornadoes). The DEM is also responsible for administering Texas' AMBER Alert network.

Texas Highway Patrol

The Texas Highway Patrol Division is the unit of the department most frequently seen by citizens. Uniformed troopers of the highway patrol are responsible for enforcing traffic and criminal law, usually in unincorporated areas, and serve as the uniformed Texas state police.

Troopers in the Highway Patrol Division also serve a capitol security role, as well as operating the DPS Bike Patrol, Motor Patrol, and Mounted Horse Patrol, all of which serve the Texas Capitol Complex in Austin.

Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division

The Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division (ICT) plays a leading role in the department's goal of combating terrorism and organized crime.

ICT manages and operates the Texas Joint Crime Information Center (TXJCIC), formerly called the Texas Fusion Center, which serves as the centerpiece in establishing and maintaining a statewide information sharing network. Through the development, acquisition, analysis and dissemination of criminal intelligence information, the Texas Joint Crime Information Center supports criminal investigations across the state on a 24/7 basis. Texas Joint Crime Information Center personnel include non-commissioned analytical experts and a small number of commissioned officers. Also participating in the Texas Joint Crime Information Center are personnel from various other law enforcement and public safety agencies, such as Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Air and Army National Guard. ICT analysts also work at other regional fusion and intelligence centers located throughout Texas.

ICT also oversees security at DPS headquarters and the Texas Capitol Complex, a 46 square block area in downtown Austin. The Capitol Complex includes the State Capitol, state office buildings, parking lots and garages, and private office buildings. Security at the Capitol Complex is the responsibility of ICT's Capitol District, which is charged with protecting state property and buildings, and providing a safe environment for state officials, employees, and the general public. The Capitol District provides total police service within the Capitol Complex, including traffic enforcement, parking enforcement, and criminal investigations.

Texas Rangers

Arguably the most well-known division of the DPS is the Texas Rangers. Rangers are responsible for state-level criminal investigation, among other duties. Texas Rangers consists of over 140 rangers.

Mounted patrol division

A horse back patrol mainly in Texas capital grounds.

DPS corruption and FBI intervention


The governing body of the Department of Public Safety is a five-member Public Safety Commission, with all members being appointed by the Governor of Texas. The Commission is responsible for appointing the director of the department. The director is assisted in managing the Department by two deputy directors and several division directors. Most divisions report to the director through one of the two deputy directors, however, the Texas Rangers Division, the Emergency Management Division and the Legal Affairs Division all report directly to the director.

The commission also appoints an inspector general to act as an inspector for the department, and a chief audit executive as part of the internal audit department known as the Chief Auditor's Office, who are both independent of the director.

See also

Related Research Articles

A highway patrol is either a police unit created primarily for the purpose of overseeing and enforcing traffic safety compliance on roads and highways, or a detail within an existing local or regional police agency that is primarily concerned with such duties. They are also referred to in many countries as traffic police, although in other countries this term is more commonly used to refer to foot officers on point duty who control traffic at junctions.

Iowa State Patrol

The Iowa State Patrol (ISP) is the state police organization in the state of Iowa. Currently, there are just over 267 officers in the patrol, roughly 183 troopers short of their authorized strength of 455. State Troopers are responsible for patrolling over 112,000 miles (180,000 km) of roadways in the state. The State is broken into 16 Districts. Their primary concern is enforcing motor vehicle laws, but they also assist with other incidents. These include riots, prison disturbances, labor related disturbances, and providing security at sporting events. The Iowa State Patrol falls under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, which also runs the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, also known as DCI.

Alaska State Troopers state police of Alaska

The Alaska State Troopers, officially the Division of Alaska State Troopers (AST), is the state police agency of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is a division of the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS). The Alaska State Troopers is a full-service law enforcement agency which handles both traffic and criminal law enforcement. The Alaska State Troopers is also involved in apprehending fugitives as part of the Alaska Fugitive Task Force, an inter-agency collaborative of Alaska police departments that cooperates with police agencies throughout the United States and less commonly with Interpol in apprehending wanted men and women. Unlike many lower-48 states, Alaska troopers are both state troopers and game/wildlife enforcement officers.

Florida Highway Patrol

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is a division of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the primary law enforcement agency charged with investigating traffic crashes and criminal laws on the state’s highways.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) is a major state law enforcement agency of the government of Oklahoma. A division of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, the OHP has traffic enforcement jurisdiction throughout the state. OHP was legislatively created on July 1, 1937 due to the growing problem of motor vehicle collisions, the expansion of a highway system, and the increase in criminal activities.

Arizona Department of Public Safety

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) is a state-level law enforcement agency with a primary function of patrolling and enforcing state laws on Arizona highways. The Director is Frank L. Milstead, who began his 4-year term in February 2015. Its headquarters are in Phoenix.

Minnesota State Patrol

The Minnesota State Patrol is the primary state police and highway patrol agency with statewide jurisdiction within the U.S. state of Minnesota. The State Patrol is a division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (ODPS) is a department of the government of Oklahoma. Under the supervision of the Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security, DPS provides for the safety of Oklahomans and the administration of justice in the state. DPS is responsible for statewide law enforcement, vehicle regulation, homeland security and such other duties as the Governor of Oklahoma may proscribe. DPS has the duty to provide for the protection and security of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

Mississippi Highway Patrol

The Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol is the highway patrol and acting state police agency for the U.S. state of Mississippi, and has law enforcement jurisdiction over the majority of the state.

New Hampshire State Police

The New Hampshire State Police is a state police agency within the Department of Safety of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Police employees of the State Police are ex officio constables and have the primary role of patrolling the state highways, enforcing the laws and regulations of the highway and motor vehicles, providing law enforcement for municipalities with no or part time coverage, and regulations relating to the transportation of hazardous materials. The jurisdiction of the State Police is generally throughout the state of New Hampshire.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol is the highway patrol agency for North Carolina which has no per-se "state police" agency. The Patrol has jurisdiction anywhere in the state except for federal or military installations. The Highway Patrol was created in 1929 and is a paramilitary organization with a rank structure similar to the armed forces. NCSHP personnel at times conduct formations, inspections, honor guard activities and drill similar to the armed forces drill and ceremonies. Troopers have a reputation in North Carolina for immaculate uniform and grooming standards. The primary mission of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is to ensure safe and efficient transportation on the streets or highways, reduce crime, protect against terrorism, and respond to natural and man-made disasters.

The Alaska State Trooper Academy is located in Sitka, Alaska, and trains Alaska State Troopers as well as other types of law enforcement personnel. It is technically known as the Alaska Department of Public Safety Training Academy and also the DPS Academy. In addition to state troopers, it trains municipal police officers, state park rangers, fire marshals, and Village public safety officers (VPSOs).

Ohio State Highway Patrol

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety and is the official highway patrol agency of Ohio.

Georgia Department of Public Safety

The Georgia Department of Public Safety (GDPS) is a state body that is responsible for statewide law enforcement and public safety within the U.S. state of Georgia. The current Commissioner of the department is Mark W. McDonough, who is also Colonel of the Georgia State Patrol.

Alabama Department of Public Safety

The Alabama Department of Public Safety is a law enforcement agency serving the U.S. state of Alabama. It is made up of three divisions: Highway Patrol Division, Marine Patrol Division, and Drivers' License Division.

Missouri Department of Public Safety

The Missouri Department of Public Safety is a department of the State of Missouri in the United States. It administers a broad range of the state's public service agencies including the division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, the division of Fire safety, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri National Guard, the Missouri State Defense Force, and the Water Patrol and Missouri Capitol Police. The gaming commission is also overseen by the department and is responsible for monitoring bingo and riverboat gambling operations. Additionally, the Missouri Department of Public Safety administers the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), which coordinates the response to natural and man-made disasters, and the state office of homeland security.

Texas Capitol Police

The Texas Capitol Police provide law enforcement and security for state property within the Texas Capitol Complex. The Department of Public Safety assumed the responsibilities of the Capitol Police by legislative mandate in 1991. The previous Capitol Police department was a division of the State Purchasing and General Services Commission. The first DPS Capitol Police recruits graduated from the Training Academy in 1993. The first Capitol Police officers commissioned by DPS were not given the full recruit school training that Highway Patrol recruits received and were not initially eligible to transfer outside of the Capitol Police without first attending a DPS Recruit Academy. This has changed and DPS Capitol is now considered a DPS Region that troopers transfer in and out of in comparison to other regions.

State police (United States) police department of a U.S. state

In the United States, state police or state troopers are a police body unique to each U.S. state, having statewide authority to conduct law enforcement activities and criminal investigations. In general, they perform functions outside the jurisdiction of the county sheriff, such as enforcing traffic laws on state highways and interstate expressways, overseeing the security of the state capitol complex, protecting the governor, training new officers for local police forces too small to operate an academy and providing technological and scientific services. They support local police and help to coordinate multi-jurisdictional task force activity in serious or complicated cases in those states that grant full police powers statewide.


  1. "Annual Estimates of the Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013" (CSV). 2013 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. December 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
  2. State of Texas. CHAPTER 411. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY OF THE STATE OF TEXAS. Sec. 411.012. COMMAND BY GOVERNOR. Retrieved on 2013-03-29.
  3. "Contact Information". Texas Department of Public Safety. Accessed October 26, 2008.
  4. Robinson, James W. (1974). The DPS Story: History of the Development of the Department of Public Safety in Texas. Austin, Texas: Texas Department of Public Safety. pp. 6–10.
  5. "San Antonio Express Newspaper Archives, Aug 10, 1935, p. 3". NewspaperArchive.com. 10 August 1935. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  6. Procter, Ben H. (2010). TEXAS RANGERS. Austin: Eakin Press.
  7. Robinson, James W. (1974). The DPS Story: The Development of the Department of Public Safety in Texas. Austin, Texas: Texas Department of Public Safety. pp. 13–14.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 http://houston.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel10/ho100610.htm
  9. 1 2 3 http://houston.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel10/ho111810.htm
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 http://houston.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel10/ho042010.htm
  11. http://www.kingsvillerecord.com/news/2010-05-01/Front_Page/Convicted_Kingsville_DPS_trooper_dies.html%5B%5D
  12. http://www.caller.com/news/convicted-former-dps-trooper-dies-in-custody-ep-360568839-316512181.html

Further reading