The Texas Ranger Police Division is perhaps the most storied law enforcement agency in the United States. These Texans have been building a commitment to public safety for almost 200 years. The agency serves in many special operations groups. Some of them are devoted to unsolved crimes/criminal investigations, corruption, and border security operations.
You may think by watching Walker, Texas Ranger that you know all there is to know about the Texas Rangers, but here are 10 intriguing facts you won't find on TV.
10. It's the oldest law enforcement agency in North America
Stephen F. Austin organized the first group of 10 Texas Rangers back in 1823. 150 members now represent the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Its headquarters are in Austin. There are six other field offices in Houston, Garland (outside of Dallas), Lubbock, Weslaco, El Paso, and Waco.
9. They carry the nickname Texas Devils
The Texas Rangers earned national accolade during the United States war against Mexico. Officials of the division fought so ferociously serving as border security that the law enforcement agency became known as "Los Diablos Tejanos," meaning Texas Devils.
8. Initial Texas Rangers had no law enforcement experience
Eight years of law experience is required to become a Texas Ranger today. In 1823 the Texas Rangers were farmers and ranchers. Their pay for fighting public corruption by no means earned a full-time living. Officers were receiving $15 a month. Payment was not in cash but in land. They wore their own clothes and rode their own horses. They were fighting with whatever ammunition they could get their hands on.
7. They were among the first to use the five-shot revolver
n the early days, Rangers would have to dismount their horses to fire their muzzleloaders. Not ideal as Native American warriors were charging with flying arrows. In an effort to be more efficient, the Union began using the five-shot revolver as their special weapon. The revolver was invented by New England gun maker Samuel Colt.
6. There are honorary Texas Rangers
The Texas Ranger Division has given the honoree designation to some. The list includes actors John Wayne and Will Rogers, President George H.W. Bush and on-screen Walker, Texas Ranger himself, Chuck Norris (the one ranger everyone knows).
5. The Texas Ranger badge has been on the moon
In honor of the department's 180th anniversary in 2004, a Texas Ranger badge was carried into space on the Endeavor Space Shuttle Mission by Col. Paul Lockhart.
4. Texas Rangers didn't always carry badges
Texas Ranger badges were not commonplace until well into the 19th century. Rangers didn't want to be identifiable as they were outnumbered. It was more valuable to blend into their surroundings. The first badges came from cutting a star into a Mexican silver coin. This was a way of showing dominance over Mexico. The nickname for the Texas Ranger badge is Cinco Peso.
3. It's still very much a man's world
The first female Texas Rangers of the 200-year-old ranger division came in 1993. 11 years later the ranger division named Wende Wakeman its first female lieutenant. She is now the highest ranking female ranger in history. Wakeman joined the Rangers back in 2008.
2. Texas Rangers have helped stop some of America's most infamous criminals
Ranger Frank Hamer teamed up with local law enforcement from Texas and Louisiana and is responsible for ambushing and killing Bonnie and Clyde. Their murder and robbery crime sprees came to an end in 1934.
Texas Ranger John Jones was the commander that took down Sam Bass who was well-known throughout Texas for train robberies.
William Jesse McDonald was ranger captain of his frontier battalion. His victories include the Fitzsimmons-Maher prize fight, the Wichita Falls bank robbery, and the Reese-Townsend feud.
The Ranger Reconnaissance Team and The Special Weapons and Tactics Team are regularly on top missions protecting the Texas-Mexico border.
1. There is a Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
There is a Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco, Texas, which includes 30 inductees. There is plenty to see and learn about the Rangers' history.