Does Texas have too many cops?

I ran across a bizarre article: a La Marque, TX woman was arrested and ticketed for dropping an F-bomb in a Wal Mart by–get this–a city fire marshal! Help me: what does swearing have to do with fires?

Texas has many overlapping types of law enforcement agencies. Here’s a sampling from the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, organized roughly by agency type:

  1. County sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and reserve sheriffs
  2. County precinct constables, deputy constables, and reserve constables
  3. City marshals (presumably the process serving kind)
  4. City police and reserve police
  5. Texas Department of Public Safety, including Texas Rangers
  6. Investigators for county district attorneys, criminal DAs, and and county attorneys
  7. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s officers
  8. Texas school district police officers (jurisdiction is entire district boundary and any property outside district boundaries that is owned, leased, or rented by or otherwise under the control of the school district) (source)
  9. Public university and college police officers (full jurisdiction within entire counties that contain property owned, leased, rented, or otherwise under the control of the university or college) (source)
  10. Private university and college police officers (jurisdiction is on property owned by the school or anywhere within a county in which the school owns property as long as the officer is performing duties assigned by the university and which are consistent with the school’s educational mission) (source)
  11. General Services Commission officers
  12. Parks and Wildlife Commission officers
  13. Airport police officers for airports exclusively operated by Houston, San Antonio, or Dallas or any political subdivision of the state.
  14. City park and recreational department officers
  15. State comptroller’s security officers and investigators
  16. Water control and improvement district’s police officers (jurisdiction appears to be limited to any land, water, or easement owned or controlled by the district) (source)
  17. Municipally-owned harbor or port police officer (source)
  18. Texas Medical Board investigators
  19. Dallas County Hospital District, Tarrant County Hospital District, or Bexar County Hospital District officers (jurisdiction limited to district property or adjacent roads) (source)
  20. County park rangers in Harris County or any county bordering the Gulf of Mexico (jurisdiction limited to county parks and unincorporated parts of islands or isthmuses) (source)
  21. Texas Racing Commission investigators
  22. Texas State Board of Pharmacy officers (may not carry a firearm or make an arrest) (source)
  23. Metropolitan rapid transit authority or regional transportation authority officers
  24. Texas Attorney General investigators
  25. Texas Lottery Commission security officers or investigators
  26. Texas Department of Health officer (limited to enforcement of food and drug portions of Health and Safety Code) (source)
  27. Supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, and each of the courts of appeals can appoint a police officer “to protect the court” (source)
  28. State fire marshal’s fire and arson investigators (source)
  29. Texas Department of Insurance investigators (source)
  30. Texas Youth Commission inspectors general (source)
  31. Texas Youth Commission apprehension specialists (source)
  32. Texas Department of Criminal Justice inspectors (source)
  33. Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education investigators (source)
  34. Texas Commission on Private Security investigators (source)
  35. Emergency Services District police officer (source)
  36. Emergency Services District fire hazards investigator (source)
  37. State Board of Dental Examiners officer (only to enforce relevant portions of the Dentistry subtitle of the occupations Code) (source)
  38. Texas Juvenile Probation Commission investigator (for the purpose of investigating allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation in juvenile justice programs and facilities) (source)

Do we need thirty eight types of state law enforcement?

7 thoughts on “Does Texas have too many cops?”

  1. Some things you may have forgotten in making the list:

    Texas statutes also permit citizens to make arrests under certain circumstances, my favorite being bank robbers in a small East Texas town who were chased down and captured by an angry mob of farmers.

    Don’t know if it’s still on the books but once upon a time in Texas, election judges could carry guns and make arrests at polling places on election day.

    As for swearing in public, some jurisdictions interpret that as disorderly conduct although once the constitutional lawyers get involved that usually goes away.

  2. That is an incredible display of dupicitous government agencies. The sad part is that they usually evolve from a lack of service to a specific need which prompts a “specialized” police force. Much like in medcine, there are way to many specialists…

  3. I was talking about this duplicitiousness with someone, and I have two thoughts.

    First: I question whether many of these need to be peace officers or at least have all the privileges of one. One had a restriction of no firearms licensing; should there be more restrictions? Should they be absolutely prohibited from making nonfelony arrests outside their mandate?

    Second: how to reduce the number of police jurisdictions without reducing needed policing services? Easy: force counties or DPS to provide these services. Consolidate under accountable agencies.

  4. Texas is a 24/7 state meaning Peace Officers are never off duty. Therefore no matter what agency they work for they are avalible to protect the public peace. Does it really matter if the officer was a Fire Marshal or a deputy sheriff, if the lady broke the law then to bad a Officer was right there to enforce it.

  5. Texas is unique in a since that it has an overwhelming number of “specialized” police officers. City and county police officers are responsible to there locality, however school police are more localized for things like trained more heavily in active shooter scenarios with children present, or more simple things like just being more readily available for school zone enforcement. Hospital district police may have more training and experience with the mentally challenged trying to break out, or perhaps thugs trying to rob the pharmacy, can’t exactly have a moron running around discharging firearms around medical oxygen tanks either. these specialized cops exists for a reason, some specialize in youth others specialize in convicts. Laws and law enforcement is complicated, and no one person can know it all, that’s the same reason behind specialized lawyers. in a particular situation wouldn’t you want a law enforcer that is extremely knowledgeable in your particular problem? All police receive a substantial amount of training on the most common things or the most important, but the rarer problems that are just as serious, that are more complicated, require officers that have extra training or at least extra experience in a particular situation.

    1. A counterargument is that existing and more common police agencies–perhaps county or state-level–could be expected to provide specialized support for certain situations. E.g., traffic, commercial vehicle, and drug units are already common. Galveston County sheriff provided Clear Creek ISD’s school resource officers at one point (presumably as an arrangement where CCISD paid GCSD). I just seems odd that we have this many types of departments with LEO powers.

  6. Would hazzard to guess that the 38 different law enforcement agencies arise out of TX fiscal funding structure.

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