Texas Rangers Get First Two Women Officers
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The first two women promoted to become Texas Rangers said hard work made their dream of joining the elite police force come true.
Marrie Reynolds Garcia, 39, of San Antonio, and Cheryl Campbell Steadman, 32, of Houston were among nine Texas Department of Public Safety officers promoted to Texas Rangers sergeants.
″I’m very proud,″ Mrs. Garcia said. ″This is something that I’ve been working on for some time.″
″I’m overwhelmed. It’s exciting. The job starts now,″ said Mrs. Steadman, a nine-year Department of Public Safety veteran.
The Texas Rangers are an elite state force dating back 170 years. Now numbering 105 officers, it investigates major crimes and tracks fugitives.
Mrs. Steadman’s husband Steve, a Department of Public Safety patrolman, shared his wife’s pride.
″When you are children playing cops and robbers, you always wanted to be a Texas Ranger,″ he said. ″Now my wife is one.″
Mrs. Garcia, a 16-year veteran of DPS, also comes from a law enforcement family. Her husband, Robert, is a San Antonio police officer.
Her father, Bob Reynolds, said she ″always wanted to be the first woman.″
To critics of allowing women in the Rangers, he said, ″Watch her shoot. She’s tough, she goes by the book.″
In the past, the Department of Public Safety has been accused of discriminating against blacks, Hispanics and women in promotions. The first black man to become a Ranger was promoted in 1988.
Col. James Wilson, head of the department, said the latest promotions show the agency is sincere in its efforts to establish a more diverse force.
″The more talent we can get, the better the agency will be in the long term,″ he said. ″We like to think of this as business as usual.″
Started in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin as a mounted militia, the Rangers often have been depicted as a symbol of law and order of the Old West despite occasional criticism for dispensing gun-barrel justice.
The Rangers were reorganized and placed within the DPS in 1935.
In 1932, Gov. Miriam ″Ma″ Ferguson discharged the Rangers, who had campaigned for her opponent, appointing some 2,300 Special Ranger commissions. Laureen Chernow, a spokeswoman for the DPS, said one or two of those appointments may have been women.
Mrs. Garcia and Mrs. Steadman are the first women to rise through the ranks of the DPS and win their silver Ranger stars.