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Legislative Recognition of the Texas Rangers Bicentennial

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Legislative Recognition of the Texas Rangers Bicentennial


This past Tuesday, February 14, 2023, also known as Valentine’s Day, both the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives showed a little love to the Texas Rangers law enforcement division. Each chamber recognized and passed resolutions commemorating the bicentennial of the Texas Rangers and extending their “sincere best wishes for continued success in their important work.”

The Texas Rangers are  the oldest state law enforcement agency in the United States. The group known today as the Texas Rangers was created in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin to provide protection for colonists. In 1835, the organization was formally established by a resolution of Austin’s Permanent Council and following the Texas Revolution, the Congress of the Republic of Texas passed a law granting a battalion of mounted riflemen to protect the frontier.

Early Texas Rangers Courtesy Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum

Texas Senate

Senate Resolution 156 was sponsored by Senators Brian Birdwell, Bryan Hughes, Mayes Middleton and Kevin Sparks. A portion of the Resolution states the following:

. . . by the mid to late 1870s, their role resembled that of something between an army and a police force; they were typically called on to assist with cases that were considered beyond the means of local police, and by the turn of the 20th century, they had transitioned from their duties as a frontier militia to focus almost exclusively on law enforcement; the beginning of the century was rife with crime, and the Rangers spent several decades fending off raiders along the Mexican border, countering spies and saboteurs, and apprehending the various gamblers, horse thieves, cattle rustlers, smugglers, bootleggers, and other offenders that dominated West Texas at that time; and  

WHEREAS, The Texas Rangers subsequently began operating under the administration of the Department of Public Safety, which was created by the Texas Legislature on August 10, 1935; only 36 personnel were initially assigned to the agency, but their newfound access to the department s’ resources, including a state-of-the-art crime laboratory, greatly enhanced the Rangers ’ investigative capabilities; newer and more advanced technologies would further facilitate their development into a fully modernized police force, and from 1935 to 1955, their annual workload increased from approximately 255 cases to more than 16,700; today, in addition to investigating high-profile crimes, the Rangers contribute to border security, tactical operations, and crisis negotiation and provide key support and intelligence to ensure that our state is protected at every level; and

WHEREAS, Over the course of two centuries, the Texas Rangers have cemented an international reputation that has grown with their depiction in multitudes of books, movies, television and radio shows, and pulp novels; the Rangers are inextricably linked to the history and mythology of the Old West, where they brought such notorious outlaws to justice as serial murderer John Wesley Hardin and train robber Sam Bass; their ranks have included a number of lawmen who achieved renown for their crime-fighting feats, among them Frank H. Hamer, John S. Ford, John Coffee Hays, and Captain W.J. McDonald, who is credited with the phrase that became the Rangers creed: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’. ” . . .

Tuesday morning Senator Birdwell was joined at the podium by Senators Pete Flores, Drew Springer, and Lois Kolkhorst. The resolution was read and adopted without objection. Then Senator Birdwell introduced to the Senate a Texas Ranger delegation including Lieutenant Colonel Freeman Martin, Chief Jason Taylor, Assistant Chief Corey Lain, Captain Wende Wakeman, and Ranger Bradley Freeman.

Visiting the Texas Capitol for the reading of resolutions recognizing the Texas Rangers Bicentennial from left to right Captain Jason Bobo Assistant Chief Corey Lain Chief Jason Taylor and Captain Wende Wakeman

Texas House of Representatives

That afternoon in the House chambers, Representative Charlie Geren brought forward House Resolution 116. In addition to recognizing the early history of the Texas Rangers, the resolution also addressed the modernization and current duties of the Texas Rangers. In part, the resolution reads:

WHEREAS, When the Texas Department of Public Safety was created in 1935, the Texas Rangers joined a much larger law enforcement team and became a highly effective state police force, complete with a highway patrol, detectives, and a modern scientific laboratory, and during World War II, they instructed civilians and local police in the latest defense techniques for protecting critical infrastructure from sabotage; today, the agency conducts investigations in such areas as major violent crime, public corruption, cold cases, and officer-involved shootings, and it oversees the DPS border security operations, as well as the department’s tactical and crisis negotiation programs; and

WHEREAS, Over the last 200 years, this renowned organization has secured its place in the colorful history of the Lone Star State, and the dedicated men and women of the Texas Rangers continue to play an instrumental role in ensuring the safety and security of their fellow citizens . . .

Modern Texas Rangers at work

Today, there are 166 Texas Rangers who serve the citizens of Texas. They are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. They cover a state with approximately 30 million citizens scattered throughout 254 counties spanning nearly 270,000 square miles.

In celebration of the Texas Rangers bicentennial, a variety of events have been planned throughout the state to celebrate this milestone. The Texas Ranger 2023 organization has been officially charged with commemorating, coordinating, and promoting the 200th anniversary of the Texas Rangers. This non-profit entity is a collaboration between the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, the Texas Department of Public Safety Foundation and the Texas Ranger Association Foundation. It is the only group acknowledged by the State of Texas to sanction official events surrounding the Rangers’ bicentennial.

For Information about the Texas Ranger Bicentennial

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
100 Texas Ranger Trail
Waco, TX 76706

The Texas Rangers Official Commemorative Bicentennial Guide

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