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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.

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


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 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]


DPS is divided into thirteen divisions:

  • Administration
  • Criminal Investigations
  • Driver License
  • Education, Training & Research
  • Emergency Management
  • Finance
  • General Counsel
  • Texas Highway Patrol (State Police)
  • Information Technology
  • Intelligence and Counterterrorism
  • Law Enforcement Support
  • Regulatory Licensing
  • Texas Ranger Division

Administrative Services DivisionEdit

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 DivisionEdit

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:

  • Gang Section
  • Drug Section
  • Special Investigative Section
  • Investigative Support Section

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 DivisionEdit

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

Emergency Management DivisionEdit

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. During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature transferred the operations of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) from DPS to the Texas A&M University System, effective Sept. 1. It will operate as the state agency responsible for emergency management in the state.

Texas Highway PatrolEdit

The 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 DivisionEdit

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 RangersEdit

Arguably the most well-known division of the DPS is the Texas Rangers. Also known as "“Los Diablos Tejanos”—the Texas Devils".[8] The Rangers are responsible for state-level criminal investigations, among other duties. The Texas Rangers consists of 166 sworn Rangers.[9]

Mounted patrol divisionEdit

A horse back patrol mainly in Texas capital grounds.

DPS corruption and FBI interventionEdit

  • In 2010 Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper Mark DeArza, 39, of Houston, and DPS clerk Lidia Gutierrez, 37, of Galena Park, Texas, were convicted of conspiring to sell Texas driver’s licenses to unqualified applicants for a fee after pleading guilty to the charge before United States District Judge Gray Miller.[10] According to the FBI public record of the case, the FBI learned through a confidential source of information (CS) that the operator of a Conoco station located on Almeda-Genoa Street in Houston was allegedly selling Texas driver’s licenses for a fee.[10] On two separate occasions, first on May 14, 2010, then again on July 26, the CS met with the operator of the gasoline station and allegedly paid him $3000 for assistance in obtaining a Texas driver’s license and $3500 for assistance with obtaining a commercial driver’s license for a friend.[10] In the first instance, the CS was referred to and met with DeArza at the DPS office on May 17, 2010, and with his assistance and that of Gutierrez, obtained a Texas driver’s license which he was unauthorized to receive.[10] In the second instance, the CS sought a commercial driver’s license for a friend. The CS allegedly paid $3500 for the arrangements to be made with DeArza and Gutierrez to obtain this driver’s license as well.[10] On July 26, 2010, at the gasoline station, the CS received a temporary driver’s license personally delivered by DeArza.[10] The CS later received both Texas driver’s licenses by United States mail.[10] Maen Bittar, 46, of Houston, the operator of a Houston Conoco gas station, plead guilty before U.S. District Judge Gray Miller[11]—admitting collecting fees from individuals, such as illegal aliens,[11] in amounts of $3000 or more to arrange with DPS employees Mark DeArza, a DPS Trooper, and Lidia Gutierrez, a DPS clerk, to process applications and receive driver’s licenses for these unqualified individuals.[11]
  • In 2010 a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) trooper was sentenced to four years in prison[12] for depriving multiple motorists of their civil rights, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas E. Perez announced.[12] Michael Anthony Higgins (March 3, 1967 - April 29, 2010), 42, formerly of the Corpus Christi area, was found guilty on January 13, 2010, by a jury’s verdict on all four counts of the indictment of willfully stealing money from motorists he stopped on the highway while working as a trooper.[12] In addition to the four-year prison term, U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey ordered Higgins to pay $850 restitution, representing the money he took from the motorists,[12] and will serve a one-year term of supervised release following completion of his prison term. Upon motion of the government, Judge Rainey ordered Higgins, previously released on bond, to be immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.[12] Higgins was prosecuted for stopping motorists who appeared to be of Hispanic descent and stealing their money, usually in amounts of several hundred dollars.[12] As a result of the civilian complaints, DPS, in conjunction with the Texas Rangers, initiated an undercover operation to investigate Higgins. An undercover police officer posed as a civilian of Hispanic descent with limited English language ability and was issued several pre-recorded $100 bills. While being monitored by DPS aerial surveillance,[12] the undercover officer drove past Higgins' duty area in Kleberg County and was eventually stopped by Higgins. Upon making the traffic stop, Higgins asked the undercover officer for money in his possession and then took the money behind the passenger side door of his police cruiser.[12] After Higgins returned bills to the officer, the officer realized that some of the money was missing. Texas Rangers and DPS officers confronted Higgins and, upon inspection of the police cruiser, found two of the pre-recorded $100 bills secreted in the passenger side door pocket[12] which was next to the area where Higgins had gone to count the money. The case was investigated by the FBI, Texas Rangers, and Officers of the Texas DPS.[12] The case was being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruben Perez of the U.S. Attorney Office for the Southern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Jim Felte from the Civil Rights Division.[12] Not long after being sentenced, Higgins died on April 29, 2010 at the age of 42 while incarcerated in the Coastal Bend Detention Center in Robstown, Texas. Complaining of chest pains the night before, Higgins collapsed and CPR was performed before he was transported by emergency medical services to Calallen Hospital, where he later died. He was pronounced dead at 7:32 a.m.[13][14]


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.

  • Texas Public Safety Commission
    • Director
      • Deputy Director - Law Enforcement Operations
        • Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division
        • Texas Highway Patrol Division
        • Criminal Investigations Division
      • Deputy Director - Services
        • Law Enforcement Support Division
        • Administration Division
        • Regulatory Services Division
        • Driver License Division
        • Finance Division
        • Information Technology Division
      • Texas Rangers Division
      • Emergency Management Division
      • General Counsel
    • Chief Auditor's Office
    • Inspector General


See alsoEdit


  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". 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. ^ Sublett, Jesse (December 31, 1969). "Lone On The Range: Texas Lawmen". Texas Monthly. Archived from the original on July 12, 2019. Retrieved August 11, 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "Texas Rangers". Texas Department of Public Safety. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g
  11. ^ a b c
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
  13. ^[permanent dead link]
  14. ^

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit