1st Black Texas Ranger Wants Publicity to ‘Fade Away’
The first black lawman to become a Texas Ranger says he is happy to be a role model but looks forward to the day when he gets attention not because of his race but because of cases he solves.
Lee Roy Young Jr., after a few months on the job, is taking special training and investigating cases from murder to kidnaping.
The 15-year veteran of the Texas Department of Public Safety said he wants to be viewed as “another person here working, and the only time I’d be brought out in the limelight is when I’m working on something that’s a large investigation or something, where there’s a lot of people involved.
“Of course, I would much rather it (the publicity) just fade away.”
The lawman, 41, is stationed in the Dallas suburb of Garland. He received his badge in early September.
Young got a lot of attention when his promotion to ranger was announced in July. The Texas Department of Public Safety has been accused by the NAACP of passing over black officers for promotion and discriminating against them in other ways.
Young is the first black to become a ranger in the 165-year history of the force, which now numbers 94 men.
He said he hasn’t personally encountered discrimination, and he hasn’t seen others discriminated against.
“I don’t see it,” he said. “Of course, I haven’t really been looking for it.”
If he becomes a role model, that’s OK with him.
“There’s always that possibility, that someone will see me and say: ‘If he was successful in his chosen field, then I can go forth and do the same in mine,’ ” he said.
“You set your sights on something, and you work toward obtaining that goal, and don’t let anything else get in your way.”
Young dreamed of being a ranger as a child in south Texas and said the reality has pretty much lived up to the dream.
“You’re trying to find or to obtain something unknown, or that’s not easily found or disclosed, so it’s that challenge in itself that I find most exciting,” he said.
As a ranger, Young said he has been involved in investigations of kidnaping, murder, narcotics, forgery, missing persons and fugitive cases.
Rangers are charged with four duties: protecting life and property by enforcing state criminal statutes, suppressing riots and insurrections, investigating major crimes and apprehending fugitives.
Law enforcement authorities in small towns and sparsely populated counties often call on rangers for help.
Before becoming a ranger, Young was a criminal intelligence investigator in San Antonio.
Lately, he has been attending training sessions on such subjects as bloodstain interpretation and making composite drawings of suspects.
“You never stop learning,” he said.