Today marks the 142nd anniversary of the state’s repeal of the Texas State Police. Like all states, Texas has a statewide law enforcement agency in the Texas Department of Public Safety’s state troopers, but the first iteration of the concept, which lasted only three years, was as unabashedly radical as it was a bloodstained, crooked and altogether haphazardly assembled endeavor.
The group of white, black and Hispanic men who fought on both sides of the Civil War – some were criminals, others were law enforcement who went on to serve in the Texas Rangers – were an incredibly effective force.
In their first month, the police made 978 arrests, according to the governor, of which 239 were for murder or attempted murder – the year prior, the state handily led the nation in deaths. They also enforced Reconstruction-era policies designed to protect African-Americans that were largely derided statewide, like guarding polling locations. However, they were also accused of murdering suspects, were essentially an illegal military extension of the state’s top office and were led by a corrupt, embezzling Adjutant General.