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A peace officer is a public official who has been charged with keeping the peace. Peace officers are granted certain powers which they can utilise to fulfil their duties, including the power to make arrests.
Texian was the preferred demonym, used by Texas colonists, for all the people of the Republic of Texas, before it became a US state. This term was strongly favored by early colonists and public officials, including a majority of Texas residents, and President Mirabeau Lamar frequently used it to foster Texas nationalism. Attempts were made by some to defame the term Texian by falsely indicating it referred to Anglo-Americans only.
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, and is based in Austin, Texas. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, acted as riot police and as detectives, protected the Governor of Texas, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force at the service of both the Republic (1836–45) and the state of Texas.
The unit is the second oldest state-level law enforcement agency in the United States. The Rangers have taken part in many of the most important events of Texas history and were involved in some of the best-known criminal cases in the history of the Old West, such as those of gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, bank robber Sam Bass, and outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Scores of books have been written about the Rangers, from well researched works of nonfiction to pulp novels, making them significant participants in the mythology of the Wild West. During their long history, a distinct Ranger tradition has evolved; their cultural significance to Texians and later Texans is such that they are legally protected against disbandment. There is a museum dedicated to the Texas Rangers in Waco, Texas.
Texas Ranger lore dates the first rangers to 1823, when Stephen F. Austin employed ten men to act as rangers to protect 600 to 700 newly settled families who arrived in Texas following the Mexican War of Independence. While there is some discussion as to when Austin actually employed men as "rangers", Texas Ranger lore dates the anniversary year of their organization to this event.
From its earliest days, the Rangers were surrounded with the mystique of the Old West. And though popular culture's image of the Rangers is typically one of rough living, tough talk and a quick draw, Ranger Captain John "Rip" Ford described the men who served him thus:
A large proportion ... were unmarried. A few of them drank intoxicating liquors. Still, it was a company of sober and brave men. They knew their duty and they did it. While in a town they made no braggadocio demonstration. They did not gallop through the streets, shoot, and yell. They had a specie of moral discipline which developed moral courage. They did right because it was right.
As it happened with many Old West myths like Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp, the Rangers' legendary aura was in part a result of the work of sensationalistic writers and the contemporary press, who glorified and embellished their deeds in an idealized manner. The case of the Rangers is, however, unique: it was a collective force that, in exercise of the authority granted by the government, protected Texas against threats considered extremely evil at the time. While some Rangers could be considered criminals wearing badges by a modern observer, many documented tales of bravery and selflessness are also intertwined in the group's history.
The duties of the Texas Ranger Division consist of conducting criminal and special investigations; apprehending wanted felons; suppressing major disturbances; the protection of life and property; and rendering assistance to local law enforcement in suppressing crime and violence.
The Texas Legislature authorizes mass inductions and the "overnight" creation of new Ranger companies. The Ranger force grew to its largest level, but the lack of training and controls were evident. Some of the new companies uphold the law while others functioned as vigilante groups incensed by raids from Mexico. Hispanic, as well as Anglo, Texans served in these units. These Rangers are given orders "... to keep them (Mexican raiders) off of Texas territory if possible, and if they invade the State let them understand they do so at the risk of their lives."
The vigilante nature, and poor command structure led to incidents unacceptable to "regular" Rangers. After one retaliatory Ranger raid into Mexico, an entire company was dismissed. In one battle in 1917, as many as 20 Mexicans may have been killed by Rangers who crossed into Mexico.
In January of 1919 Representative José T. Canales of Brownsville demands a legislative investigation of the conduct of the various Ranger forces during the period 1915-1917 and the reorganization of the force. The Texas Legislature investigates nineteen charges made against the Texas Ranger forces in the aftermath of the Plan of San Diego and the War. The investigation results in the reduction of the Ranger force to four companies of 17 men each. A tightening of qualifications for the Texas Ranger service leads to its initial professionalization.
Following an investigation of corruption in the Ferguson administration, a panel recommends the formation of the Texas Department of Public Safety headed by an independent Public Safety Commission. Newly elected Governor Allred revokes the commissions of all Texas Rangers appointed by the Ferguson administration.