Texas Department of Public Safety employees could soon receive recognition and benefits from a new nonprofit group designed to support their efforts in law enforcement.

Texas Department of Public Safety Foundation began about four years ago, when board President Tom Clowe decided the unseen heroes behind the scenes and troopers on the highways needed some support.

“These commissioned police officers — for example, Texas Rangers, highway patrol, criminal investigation division — they’re putting their lives at risk when they apprehend criminals, drug traffickers and those types of individuals. So, they really are at much higher risk,” Clowe said.

Clowe is a Waco resident and a retired businessman who served as the former Texas Public Safety commissioner and is an emeritus member of the board of directors for the Texas Rangers Museum.

The previous Texas DPS Foundation gave out several awards per year to recognize outstanding service, but Clowe wanted to expand that vision.

“It’s been a slow process because we wanted to get everything just right,” he said.

The new foundation will provide scholarships for DPS employees’ families, death or disability benefits for families who have lost an officer or had an officer disabled in the line of duty, lengthy service awards and monuments to those who served.

Families will not have to request death benefits. A grant committee will award money based on need, Clowe said.

A 25-member board of directors will meet four times a year to manage the organization with 25 advisory committee members who meet only once a year.

The foundation’s executive director, Emily Christy, said the foundation now administers for the state the Wilson E. Speir Criminal Justice Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for those earning criminal justice degrees.

The foundation plans to add additional scholarships for spouses and children of DPS employees, Christy said.

The new scholarships will be given out based on financial need, and families of deceased or officers who were harmed in the line of duty will be given priority, Christy said.

The new scholarships have not been issued yet, but could begin this spring if the board approves.

“It’s important for the board to be supporting the department in any way that we can, and this is something that we’ve done thus far and we look forward to doing more of,” Christy said.

DPS officials thanked the organization’s members for the support.

“The department greatly appreciates the leadership and vision of the foundation and its members who are committed to providing assistance to DPS officers and their families. The foundation’s generous and selfless service will be invaluable to those DPS officers who risk their lives daily,” DPS officials said in a written statement.

DPS has more than 9,000 employees, divided into departments that include law-enforcement officers, Texas Rangers and crime labs.

DPS also provides helicopters for any missing person searches and, of course, issue drivers’ licenses.

“All of these employees are dedicated and outstanding individuals that a foundation can support and benefit with private funding that the Legislature is unable to fund through appropriations,” Clowe said.

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