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What are the Texas Rangers?

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  • Written By: Tiffany Manley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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The Texas Rangers are the members of a law enforcement group that has been in existence since 1823. They are North America's oldest law enforcement group that has statewide jurisdiction. The group was started by Stephen F. Austin as a way to protect the people that had began to colonize what is now known as Texas.

An original enlistment period for a Texas Ranger was one year, and they received $1.25 US Dollars per day as payment. Many battles involved the Texas Rangers, such as the Council House Fight in San Antonio, the raid on Linnville and the Battle of Plum Creek. From 1836 to 1845, laws were passed that authorized the formation of more groups of Texas Rangers, each protecting various parts of the area.

Beginning in 1865 and lasting until 1873, the group underwent a re-regimentation. They were formed into the State Police. Their orders to enforce unpopular carpetbagger laws caused them to lose favor with many people.

After this period, the Texas Rangers became an organization that was not quite a military group yet also not quite a police force. They were called upon to meet enemies in battle as well as help with community matters. Generally, if a matter was too big to be handled by a local law enforcement agency, the Rangers were called in. They enjoyed jurisdiction over the whole state as well.

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In 1901, the Rangers once again were redirected. A law was passed giving them the same privileges and responsibilities of any other peace officer. They were organized into four companies of 20 men each, with four captains commanding each company. West Texas and the Mexican border were the areas patrolled by the companies.

Some events, such as the Mexican Revolution and World War I, were things that the Texas Rangers found they could not handle. Prohibition also falls into this category, as do oil booms. Each one of these events brought with it a different set of issues and circumstances. In 1919, the four companies of Rangers were cut back to 15 men each.

The modern Texas Rangers are organized into six companies. They still help with law enforcement, and they have begun to take on a more prominent role in homeland security duties. They can be recognized throughout Texas by their western hat and boots and their badge, which is made from a Mexican coin and is pinned above their left shirt pocket.

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