Texas Highway Patrol
|Texas Highway Patrol|
|Texas Highway Patrol Door Seal|
|Badge of the Texas Highway Patrol.|
|Preceding agency||Texas Highway Motor Patrol|
|Employees||7,611 (as of 2004)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Operations jurisdiction*||State of Texas, USA|
|Size||261,797 square miles (678,050 km2)|
|Population||23,904,380 (2007 est.)|
|Troopers||2,119 (as of 2011)|
|Civilians||4,174 (as of 2004)|
|Parent agency||Texas Department of Public Safety|
|Child agency||Capitol Security Police Division|
|* 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.
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.
As of 2013, the Texas Highway Patrol is divided into seven regions and nineteen districts. Regions are labeled 1-7 and are subdivided into districts, labeled alphabetically.
- Region 1 - Dallas
- Region 2 - Houston
- Region 3 - McAllen
- Region 4 - El Paso
- District A - Midland
- District B - El Paso
- Region 5 - Lubbock
- Region 6 - San Antonio
- Region 7 - Austin
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 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.
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. 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.
- Apprehend traffic law violators, investigate most rural traffic accidents, recover stolen vehicles and stolen property, apprehend wanted persons, and assist other officers during emergencies.
- Supervise the State Vehicle Inspection Program which includes inspection stations and mechanic inspectors.
- Provide education and information programs on traffic safety and crime prevention and control.
- Responsible for security at the Texas State Capitol Complex in Austin.
- Enforce laws regulating weight, registration and other regulations governing commercial carriers.
- Driver License Division Troopers license and rehabilitate Texas drivers.
- Oversee Hazardous Materials incidents.
- Provide statewide criminal law enforcement, especially in rural areas where local police are limited.
- Participate in selective specialized units, such as regional SWAT teams, marine patrol, and dive recovery.
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 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.
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.
- Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
- Dodge Charger
- Chevrolet Tahoe
- Ford Explorer Police Utility
- Chevrolet Silverado
- Chevrolet Camaro (No longer in service)
- Harley-Davidson Electra Glide (Experimental)
- Eurocopter AS350 Helicopter
- Eurocopter EC-145 Helicopter
- Aero Commander 680V Turbo Commander Fixed-Wing
- Shallow Water Interceptor Patrol Boat
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.
Salary and Promotions
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
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.
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.
- Male: 95%
- Female: 5%
- White: 66%
- Hispanic: 22%
- African-American/Black: 11%
- Asian: 1%
Since the establishment of the Texas Highway Patrol, 84 troopers have died in the line of duty.
The causes of death are as follows:
|Cause of death||Number of deaths|
|Struck by train||
|Struck by vehicle||
All fallen Highway Patrol troopers are publicly honored at the Texas Peace Officers' Memorial in Austin, a memorial at the Texas Department of Public Safety headquarters, and by various memorial markers throughout the state.
- Davis class patrol boat
- List of law enforcement agencies in Texas
- State police
- State patrol
- Highway patrol
- USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies 2004
- "2007 Population Estimates" (xls). US Census. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- "TxDPS - Highway Patrol". Txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- Same hat as Texas Highway Patrol, just a natural color http://www.qualityhats.com/resistolcattleman.htm
- Early DPS Uniforms http://texasdpsmuseum.com/
- "TxDPS - Aircraft History". Txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "TxDPS -June 14th, 2012 Newest DPS Patrol Vessel Commissioned in Austin". Txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- 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
- Texas Highway Patrol (Official Website)
- Texas Highway Patrol History (Official Website)
- Texas Highway Patrol Association & Museum (Official Website)