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DPS names first-ever female Texas Ranger major

Wende O. Wakeman first joined Texas DPS in 1998.

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas Rangers captain-turned-major is making history.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced Tuesday the promotion of Texas Ranger Captain Wende O. Wakeman to the rank of major, making her the first female Ranger major in the organization's 200-year history.

"Major Wende Wakeman’s years of hard work, her tremendous strength of character and her unwavering determination have all led her to this moment," DPS Director Steven McCraw said. "I cannot think of someone more deserving, nor can I think of a better role model for so many to be able to follow as she continues pave the way."

As of Sept. 1, Wakeman now serves as the major of the Texas Ranger Company "F," stationed in Waco. She oversees 27 Rangers and three lieutenants across the region, which spans just south of Dallas to south of San Antonio.

"It is an unbelievable honor to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of this great state and to lead my fellow Texas Rangers in this capacity," Wakeman said. "This moment in Ranger history is only possible because of the dedication and the sacrifice of so many that have come before, along with the incredible strides made by this organization over the years. I will strive to do my very best to represent the men and women of this department every day."

Credit: Texas DPS
Texas Ranger Captain Wende O. Wakeman. Photo courtesy of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

According to the department, Wakeman first joined DPS in 1998. She served as a Texas Highway Patrol trooper in Sulphur Springs and New Caney before she was promoted to narcotics sergeant in 2003. Five years later, she joined the Texas Rangers in Conroe.

In 2014, Wakeman was promoted to lieutenant – becoming the first woman to be promoted to that rank – and was stationed in Laredo. She transferred to Huntsville a year later.

Wakeman was promoted to captain in 2020 and served at the Texas Ranger Headquarters in Austin until her promotion to major. During her time at the headquarters, she oversaw the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) program. SAKI is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance to "assist with furthering collection of offender DNA and the investigation and prosecution of cold case sexually related homicides and sexual assault cases, including violent serial sex offenders," according to DPS.

Wakeman is a graduate of the National Forensics Academy, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Women’s Leadership Institute and the DPS Command College; serves as a TCOLE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) instructor; and has completed the FBI Leadership Trilogy and the LEMIT – Leadership Inventory for Female Executives (L.I.F.E.) course.

She also holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University.

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