CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
HORSESHOE BAY — Throughout their history, Texas Rangers transformed from frontier scouts who tamed early Texas into high-tech investigators unraveling intricate murder and terrorist plots.
Four lawmen, who retired from that agency with a legendary pedigree, will continue offering their crimefighting expertise to a local police agency.
On June 30, retired Texas Ranger Garth Davis became the fourth to accept a position with the Horseshoe Bay Police Department as an investigator, joining Jim Denman, Jess Ramos and Rocky Wardlow.
“The retired rangers that currently work here I’ve known for quite a while, and I have worked with them on various investigations,” said Davis, who recently left the Burnet Police Department, where he was an investigator.
During all four men’s tenures as Rangers, which is the investigative arm of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the men participated in a number of nationally and internationally known Texas cases, including the 1997 Branch Davidian siege outside of Waco; the 1997 standoff involving the Republic of Texas in Fort Davis; and more recently the 2005 Alladin’s Beauty School founder murder in Horseshoe Bay as well as the 2009 Fort Hood in Killeen.
Wardlow, the first of the Rangers hired by Horseshoe Bay, recently became the assistant police chief.
In his duties of overseeing day-to-day operations and personnel, Wardlow is in charge of Ramos, hired in October, as well as his former Texas Ranger lieutenant supervisor, Denman, who came on board in April 2012. Denman is now a reserve investigator, and Davis will step into Denman’s former full-time position.
Davis said the officers will call on all the tools and the resources that made them successful in their state careers.
“An individual brings their own work ethic with them. Crime is crime — which I read in a quote from a smart individual — all crimes are thefts. Whether it’s theft of property, theft of dignity, theft of life or theft of security, that’s where it all starts,” Davis said. “Any crime you encounter as an investigator, you should look at it that way and work it accordingly.”
Horseshoe Bay Police Chief Bill Lane said finding the foursome was no accident.
“I watch to see if they’re approaching retirement because I know if I can reach out and get someone with that talent, background, expertise, look at the benefit it provides to the community,” Lane said. “To be fortunate enough to draw four guys like this into the department is just unbelievable as a police administrator.”
Stephen F. Austin created the Texas Rangers in 1823. A famous Texas Ranger motto, “One riot, One Ranger,” evolved from an oral account involving Camp Worth (now Fort Worth), where officials telegraphed Austin legislators to ask for a company of Rangers to subdue a riot, according to Bill Cannons’ “Texas: Land of Legend and Lore.”
One Ranger stepped off the train, leading officials to inquire about the rest.
The Ranger responded, “You ain’t got but one riot.”
Since the four retired Rangers settled in Horseshoe Bay, other area agencies have drawn on their expertise as well.
In their current capacity, the former Rangers recently tracked two suspects to Horseshoe Bay and uncovered the suspected weapon in a capital murder case in May in Spicewood.
“Law enforcement at its best is a cooperative involvement between various agencies,” Davis said. “Many times, you can judge the quality of the individual you’re about to work with by how well they cooperate and how well you work towards a common goal for the citizens that you serve.”
TEXAS RANGERS IN HORSESHOE BAY
Garth Davis, sergeant investigator
Born and raised: Lubbock
Notable: Began his law enforcement career in 1988 with the Texas Department of Public Safety as a highway patrol officer. After 13 years as a trooper in cities, including Lubbock, he was promoted and served as a Texas Ranger for 11 years, assigned to Burnet County and the Austin area. He retired from DPS then worked as an investigator at the Burnet Police Department for a year and a half before accepting the job at Horseshoe Bay.
James William Denman, reserve investigator
Born: Memphis, Tenn.
Raised: San Antonio
Notable: Served as a state trooper in San Antonio and eventually became a Texas Ranger, working in Pecos, Brady, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, before retiring after 33 years.
Jesus “Jess” Gomez Ramos, sergeant investigator
Born and raised: Killeen
Notable: Retired after 29 years with the DPS, working as a highway patrolman, narcotics officer and Texas Ranger. He retired as a Texas Ranger, receiving his final assignments based in Lampasas. During his career, he served in Cleburne, Waco, Copperas Cove and Bryan/College Station.
Lynn “Rocky” Wardlow, assistant chief
Born: Rural Illinois
Notable: Started in 1980 as a DPS trooper in Shamrock and also serving in Granbury, Corpus Christi and Bastrop. He became a Texas Ranger, working both Bastrop and Austin area cases, eventually transferring in 2008 to Llano, where he retired.