Antonio “Tony” Leal has been named chief of the Texas Ranger Division, becoming the first Hispanic to lead the elite crime-fighting force.
“Tony Leal is a 24-year veteran of DPS and brings the experience and leadership skills needed to guide the Texas Rangers in the coming years,” said interim DPS Director Stanley E. Clark. “He is the first Hispanic and the youngest person ever named chief of the Texas Ranger Division.”
Leal, 44, was born in Sugarland and raised in the Fort Bend County area. He began his career with DPS in June 1984. He started as a Highway Patrol trooper in Stafford and Rosenberg and then moved to San Antonio as a Highway Patrol sergeant, before promoting to the Texas Rangers in 1994.
His Ranger duty stations included assignments in Liberty, Seguin and San Antonio, where he was part of the Unsolved Crimes Investigation Team. Leal promoted to lieutenant in 2002 and was stationed in Austin. In 2005, he promoted to captain of Company A in Houston, overseeing 20 Texas Rangers responsible for 30 counties. His appointment to Ranger chief took effect December 10.
“My dream as a young man was to become a Texas Highway Patrolman, and I never imagined becoming a Texas Ranger, much less the Texas Ranger chief,” said Leal, who will also carry the rank of Senior Ranger Captain. “I appreciate the confidence and support of the Directors and the Commission. It is my goal to continue to uphold the Ranger tradition, while moving ahead with the goals of the Department as a whole.”
The Rangers specialize in investigating felony crimes such as murder, white-collar crime and public corruption. The Texas Rangers are one of the six major divisions that make up DPS, along with the Highway Patrol, Criminal Law Enforcement, Driver License, Emergency Management and Administration divisions. The Ranger Division includes 160 people, including 134 Texas Rangers.