Texas Highway Patrol

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Texas Highway Patrol
TX - Highway Patrol Door Seal.png
Texas Highway Patrol Door Seal
TX - HP Badge.png
Badge of the Texas Highway Patrol.
Agency overview
Preceding agencyTexas Highway Motor Patrol
Employees7,611 (as of 2004)[1]
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction*State of Texas, USA
Size261,797 square miles (678,050 km2)
Population23,904,380 (2007 est.)[2]
Legal jurisdictionTexas
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersAustin, Texas
Troopers2,119 (as of 2011)[3]
Civilians4,174 (as of 2004)[1]
Parent agencyTexas Department of Public Safety
Child agencyCapitol Security Police Division
Regions6
Districts19
Website
http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/tle/index.htm
Footnotes
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.
 
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Texas Highway Patrol
TX - Highway Patrol Door Seal.png
Texas Highway Patrol Door Seal
TX - HP Badge.png
Badge of the Texas Highway Patrol.
Agency overview
Preceding agencyTexas Highway Motor Patrol
Employees7,611 (as of 2004)[1]
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction*State of Texas, USA
Size261,797 square miles (678,050 km2)
Population23,904,380 (2007 est.)[2]
Legal jurisdictionTexas
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersAustin, Texas
Troopers2,119 (as of 2011)[3]
Civilians4,174 (as of 2004)[1]
Parent agencyTexas Department of Public Safety
Child agencyCapitol Security Police Division
Regions6
Districts19
Website
http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/tle/index.htm
Footnotes
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Texas Highway Patrol is a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety and has the responsibility for general police traffic supervision, traffic, and criminal law enforcement on the rural highways of Texas. The Division's goal is to help maintain public safety through the efficient and effective administration of the division's various programs. The current Chief is Lieutenant Colonel Luiz Gonzalez. The Chief reports to the Texas DPS Director, Colonel Steven McCraw.

History[edit]

Early law enforcement in Texas began with the establishment of the Texas Rangers in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin. From then until the Civil War, the Rangers were the only form of state law enforcement available. The force was temporarily disbanded by the federal government after the Civil War, and replaced with the short-lived Texas State Police. This agency lasted only three years before the Texas Rangers were reorganized. Until the introduction of the automoblie, they remained the only state criminal law enforcement agency in Texas.

The Texas Highway Patrol was established in 1929 as the Texas Highway Motor Patrol, tasked with enforcing traffic laws on Texas roads. The original force was made up of about 60 officers who patrolled on motorcycles, often in pairs. Because of this, it was not uncommon for troopers to drive criminals to jail in their own cars, then return later for the motorcycle left on the side of the road. When the Texas Department of Public Safety was formed in 1935, the Highway Motor Patrol was transferred into that department and was renamed the Texas Highway Patrol. The use of motorcycles was phased out after World War II, and cars became troopers' main mode of transportation. Two-way radio and teletype were also added in the late 1940s, allowing troopers to communicate with regional dispatch centers. The Aviation Unit was also established in 1949 with the purchase of a single-engine aircraft based in Austin.

The 1960s saw some advances in technology, such as radar speed detection. Nevertheless, troopers' work was still mostly based on instinct and visual detection, and was often very hazardous. High-speed pursuits of bootleggers were common, and troopers were required to act as "storm chasers" for the National Weather Service because of the limited weather radar at the time. Motorcycles were introduced again in the 1970s, but the idea was quickly abandoned when the bikes proved unreliable.

Modern troopers use highly sophisticated technology to conduct their duties. GPS lets dispatch centers identify a unit's exact location, and in-car computers allow troopers to receive knowledge of a person's background before ever approaching a vehicle. Other technological innovations include dashboard cameras, mobile citation printers, and Tasers.

As of 2011, the Texas Highway Patrol employs 2,119 sworn troopers, making up roughly 60% of the Texas DPS.

Subdivision[edit]

As of 2013, the Texas Highway Patrol is divided into seven regions and nineteen districts.[4] Regions are labeled 1-7 and are subdivided into districts, labeled alphabetically.

District A - Dallas
District B - Tyler
District C - Mount Pleasant
District D - Hurst
District A - Houston
District B - Beaumont
District C - Conroe
District D - Bryan
District A - McAllen
District B - Laredo
District C - Corpus Christi
District A - Midland
District B - El Paso
District A - Lubbock
District B - Amarillo
District C - Abilene
District A - San Antonio
District B - Austin
District C - Waco


Region 7 is a special region which serves as security for the Capitol Complex, Governor's Mansion, and Governor's Protective Detail and is headquartered in Austin.

Districts are further divided into patrol areas encompassing one or two counties, depending on size. Sergeants oversee troopers within a patrol area, lieutenants and captains oversee districts, and majors oversee regions.

Highway Patrol regions do not necessarily coincide with general DPS regions, or with subdivision of other DPS agencies, such as the Texas Rangers Division, which is organized into companies differing from DPS regions. However, Highway Patrol regional headquarters are typically located at the general DPS office in their respective cities.

Training[edit]

Training is held at DPS headquarters in Austin. Academies are physically and mentally demanding and last anywhere from 20 to 28 weeks. On average, two academies are held per year; this number can be altered by the director as necessary. Material includes firearms, driving, HAZMAT, and physical training, as well as classroom study such as fraudulent document recognition and legal and ethics code study, among many others. Due to the difficult nature of the academy, some classes have graduated fewer than 20% of the starting number. Class B-2012 commissioned 74 troopers out of a starting class of 96, an approximately 77% graduation rate.[5]

As of September 2013, Trooper Trainees are paid $3,131.33 per month while in training. Effective in 2014, this number will increase to $3,280.50.[6] Trainees are allowed to select a duty assignment from a list of available stations throughout the state. Trainees are guaranteed one of their top three choices, and are given their assignment in the fourth week of training.

Academy graduation and commissioning are held at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library auditorium in Austin.

Duties[edit]

Highway Patrol Division Troopers enforce traffic laws on Texas highways and perform a variety of other duties:

Uniforms[edit]

Texas state troopers wear tan uniforms. Full-length pants with a blue stripe and red piping are worn at all times. Polished black combat boots are worn on duty, along with similarly polished holsters and pouches on the gun belt. Badges are reminiscent of the Texas Rangers' famous "star-in-a-wheel" badge, though slightly larger and featuring a solid blue field behind the star. The badge number is prominently displayed in blue in the center of the star. Shoulder patches, worn on either sleeve, are predominantly red in color and feature the Texas Highway Patrol crest.

Troopers' headwear is unique in that instead of the peaked caps or campaign hats popular with other agencies, cowboy hats[7] are worn with the duty uniform. Felt hats are worn in colder weather and straw hats are worn in warmer weather. Ceremonial dress is similar to the patrol uniform, with the addition of white cotton gloves, white tunic, black cowboy boots, and a red fourragère, worn over the left shoulder.

Past uniforms (pre-1970s) were blue-grey in color, with peaked caps and diamond-shaped badges.[8]

Vehicles[edit]

The Texas Highway Patrol uses a variety of vehicles for patrol and specialized services. Early patrol units were motorcycles, but these were phased out in the 1950s. Since then, four-wheeled vehicles have been used for all patrol purposes; one trooper is assigned to each unit.

Current patrol vehicles are painted black with a white hood, roof, and trunk. Traditionally, the top of the doors were also white, but this practice is being abandoned with newer vehicles. "Texas Department Public Safety" is printed on the front door over a brown silhouette of the state of Texas. Underneath, "Texas Highway Patrol" is printed in white; "State Trooper" is printed on the front fender and on the trunk.

The Texas Highway Patrol also utilizes helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and marine craft for specialized functions, such as search and rescue, reconnaissance/intelligence, and border patrol. The Tactical Marine Division is the newest addition to the Highway Patrol, with the acquisition of six patrol vessels intended to police the Rio Grande and international lakes between the U.S. and Mexico.

In 2012, the Texas DPS decided to replace its aging fleet of Ford Crown Victorias with Dodge Chargers. A small number of Ford's Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility vehicles were purchased for use mainly in the Texas Panhandle.[9]

Patrol Vehicles

Ford Crown Victoria of the Texas Highway Patrol

Motorcycles

Aircraft[10]

Marine Craft[11]

S.R.T.

Recruiting

Equipment[edit]

Troopers are armed with the SIG Sauer P226 or P229 chambered in .357 SIG. Additional weaponry includes the Colt M4 carbine assault rifle and the Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun.

Patrol cars are equipped with Panasonic Toughbook computer terminals and mobile citation printers. Mounted lights are either the Whelen Freedom lightbar, in older units, or the Whelen Liberty lightbar, in newer units. Half of the lightbar contains white LED takedown lights; these are supplemented by column-mounted LED spotlights in newer vehicles. LED warning lights are also mounted on the rear deck. Primary light colors for all vehicles are red and blue, and rear directional lights are amber.

"Take-home" patrol cars are typically issued, and therefore may be modified individually by troopers. Modifications may include adding additional warning lights to the vehicle or installing pushbars. However, unlike many municipal police forces, troopers may not modify their own personal vehicles for patrol purposes, as only supervisors (rank of sergeant and above) are authorized to drive unmarked patrol cars. The exception to this rule is for troopers who are on call 24/7 as members of regional Special Response Teams (SRT).

Salary and Promotions[edit]

As of September 2013, troopers who have completed the one year probationary period are paid $49,582 per year; four-year troopers receive $56,997 annually; and sergeants receive $64,085 per year. After an audit determined that troopers were being paid almost 20% less than officers in many municipal police departments, troopers' salaries were set to increase for 2014. In respective order as above, troopers will receive $51,943, $63,336, and $70,938 annually starting in fiscal year 2014.

Troopers are automatically upgraded to different trooper classes in four-year increments. Salary increases with each class, up to Trooper VI, at which point pay becomes and remains steady. Troopers are eligible for promotion to sergeant after four years of service. Promotion is based on availability and completion of a civil service exam, as well as experience and disciplinary history. After two years as a sergeant, troopers are eligible for promotion to lieutenant.

Response to 2010 Audit[edit]

Many changes to salaries and promotional requirements were made in response to a 10% drop in the number of troopers between 2004 and 2010, when an audit was conducted. The audit determined that Highway Patrol troopers were being paid far less annually than officers at many metropolitan police departments and sheriff's offices. The problem had been present for many years, but had gone unresolved because the Texas State Legislature sets state employee salary, not individual agencies. Additionally, state agencies had been asked to cut approximately 10% of their budgets between 2010 and 2012, making lawmakers hesitant to approve a larger budget for DPS. However, many legislators also feared that the decrease in size of the DPS, which was predicted to worsen, would result in a gradual lapse in quality of service. As a result, a 20% pay increase in the salary of most Texas DPS officials was approved in 2012. Additional legislative measures are intended to shield DPS from most future budget cuts.

In previous years, troopers who received promotions were typically required to move to fill available posts throughout the state. However, concurrent with the legislative decision to increase trooper pay, an internal decision was made by the Texas DPS to relax this method, allowing troopers to have more say in where they are stationed upon being promoted. The decision was based on a trend of troopers being required to live hours away from their families in order to prevent their spouses from having to leave steady employment.[12]

DPS also made an effort to fill state trooper vacancies. Recruitment efforts were increased across the country, particularly focusing on military members preparing to leave active duty. Recruiters traveled as far as California and North Carolina in search of potential applicants.

Demographics[edit]

Source:[13]

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Highway Patrol, 83 officers have died in the line of duty.[14][15]

The causes of death are as follows:

Cause of deathNumber of deaths
Automobile accident
24
Gunfire
25
Gunfire (Accidental)
2
Heart attack
1
Motorcycle accident
6
Struck by train
2
Struck by vehicle
10
Training accident
1
Vehicle pursuit
5
Vehicular assault
6
Weather/Natural disaster
1

The most infamous killing of Texas state troopers were the shooting deaths of Patrolmen H.D. Murphy and Edward Bryan Wheeler by the notorious outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The officers were shot in cold blood on April 1, 1934 after stopping to assist what they thought were stranded motorists near Grapevine, Texas. As they approached the vehicle, Parker, Barrow, and a third accomplice opened fire, killing the officers. The accomplice, Henry Methvin, would later claim he fired first after misunderstanding Barrow's intention to kidnap the troopers.

Prior to the shooting, the Barrow gang held hero-like status among the American population during the Great Depression. The deaths of Murphy and Wheeler, however, are widely regarded by historians as the crucial incident that turned public opinion strongly against the Barrow gang. Though the shooting was callous in and of itself, public rage was mostly fueled by exaggerated witness and media reports. Soon after the incident, a posse of Texas and Louisiana officers ambushed and killed Parker and Barrow near Shreveport, Louisiana; the posse opened fire without giving the pair an opportunity to surrender.

A memorial marker in present-day Southlake marks the location where Patrolmen Murphy and Wheeler were killed.

All fallen Highway Patrol troopers are publicly honored at the Texas Peace Officers' Memorial in Austin, a memorial at Texas DPS headquarters, and by various memorial markers throughout the state.

Rank structure[edit]

RankInsignia
Director (Colonel)[16]
US-O6 insignia.svg[17]
Deputy Director (Lieutenant Colonel)[18]
US-O5 insignia.svg
Major
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain
Captain insignia gold.svg
Lieutenant
US-O1 insignia.svg
Sergeant
Army-USA-OR-09b.svg
Corporal
TX - Houston Police Senior Police Officer.png
Trooper
N/A

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies 2004
  2. ^ "2007 Population Estimates" (xls). US Census. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  3. ^ "TxDPS - Highway Patrol". Txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  4. ^ http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/staff_support/victimservices/pages/map.htm
  5. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHLqUG8d-I0
  6. ^ http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/trainingacademy/recruiting/benefits.htm
  7. ^ Same hat as Texas Highway Patrol, just a natural color http://www.qualityhats.com/resistolcattleman.htm
  8. ^ Early DPS Uniforms http://texasdpsmuseum.com/
  9. ^ http://www.government-fleet.com/article/print/story/2011/11/2012-michigan-vehicle-tests-patrol-cars.aspx
  10. ^ "TxDPS - Aircraft History". Txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  11. ^ "TxDPS -June 14th, 2012 Newest DPS Patrol Vessel Commissioned in Austin". Txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  12. ^ http://www.texastribune.org/texas-state-agencies/department-of-public-safety/state-law-enforcement-lags-local-police-in-pay/
  13. ^ Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/lemas00.pdf
  14. ^ "Texas Department of Public Safety - Texas Highway Patrol, Texas, Fallen Officers". Odmp.org. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ http://www.texasranger.org/today/DPS.htm
  17. ^ http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/media_and_communications/images/PR070313_8Lg.jpg
  18. ^ http://www.texasranger.org/today/DPS.htm

External links[edit]