Texas Department of Public Safety

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Texas Department of Public Safety
Abbreviation TX DPS
Texas Department of Public Safety.jpg
Patch of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
TX - DPS Seal.png
Logo of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Motto Courtesy, Service, Protection
Agency overview
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of Texas, USA
Size 261,797 square miles (678,050 km2)
Population 23,904,380 (2007 est.)[1]
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Austin, Texas
Agency executives
  • Colonel Steve McCraw, Director
  • Lieutenant Colonel David Baker, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement
  • Cheryl MacBride, Deputy Director of Services
  • Luiz Gonzalez, Assistant Director Texas Highway Patrol
  • Hank Whitman, Assistant Director Texas Rangers
  • Thomas Ruocco, Assistant Director Criminal Investigations
Website
Texas DPS website
Footnotes
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is a department of the government of the state of Texas. The DPS is responsible for statewide law enforcement and vehicle regulation. The Public Safety Commission oversees the 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 the 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. The DPS director and assistant director report to the commission. The director's staff includes the Director, Steven McCraw, who holds the rank of colonel, and Deputy Director David Baker, who holds the rank of lieutenant colonel.

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

Divisions[edit]

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 Division[edit]

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[edit]

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 Division[edit]

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

Emergency Management Division[edit]

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[edit]

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 Texas state police.

Anti-contraband enforcement is one of the areas in which the Texas Highway Patrol displays the most zeal. In one example, troopers were authorized to digitally probe for contraband the orifices of two citizens whom the trooper had detained on the side of the road.[4][5][6] Two troopers were suspended over the incident[7] but the suspensions were with pay, and their duration is unknown. A lawsuit was filed against two officers, Farrell and Helleson, and the Director of the Texas DPS, Steven McCraw, by the women.[8] One trooper was later 'provisionally fired', but the other remained suspended with pay.[9] The female officer who probed the citizens was later indicted on charges of sexual assault and official oppression.[10] The ringleader officer was indicted on charges of theft, but remained on suspension with pay.[11] Indictments in Texas are guided by a prosecutor and are handed down by a Grand Jury of ordinary citizens. The suit, to which the State DPS had been added as co-defendant, was settled for $185,000 on 25 June 2013.[12] Trooper Jennie Bui was reinstated by DPS Director Steve McCraw on 12 August 2013.[13]

Another pair of sexual assaults, with the same modus operandi, was recorded[14] 45 days earlier. [15] The female trooper who performed the sexual assault was fired, while the ringleader trooper was suspended with pay.[16] The victims of these sexual assaults plan to sue. The troopers can safely be said to have been trained by their superiors to sexually assault ordinary citizens at pre-arrest roadside checks.

Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division[edit]

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 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 Fusion Center supports criminal investigations across the state on a 24/7 basis. Texas Fusion Center personnel include non-commissioned analytical experts and a small number of commissioned officers. Also participating in the Texas Fusion 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[edit]

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.

DPS corruption and FBI intervention[edit]

  • 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.[17] 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.[17] 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.[17] 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.[17] 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.[17] On July 26, 2010, at the gasoline station, the CS received a temporary driver’s license personally delivered by DeArza.[17] The CS later received both Texas driver’s licenses by United States mail.[17] Maen Bittar, 46, of Houston, the operator of a Houston Conoco gas station, plead guilty before U.S. District Judge Gray Miller[18]—admitting collecting fees from individuals, such as illegal aliens,[18] 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.[18]
  • In 2010 a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) trooper was sentenced to four years in prison[19] 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.[19] Michael Anthony Higgins, 43, 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.[19] 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,[19] 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.[19] Higgins was prosecuted for stopping motorists who appeared to be of Hispanic descent and stealing their money, usually in amounts of several hundred dollars.[19] 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,[19] 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.[19] 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[19] 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.[19] The case is 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.[19]

Organization[edit]

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

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Harnsberger, R. Scott. A Guide to Sources of Texas Criminal Justice Statistics [North Texas Crime and Criminal Justice Series, no. 6]. Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1574413083.

External links[edit]