Oklahoma Department of Public Safety

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety
OK - DPS Seal.png
Agency overview
Formed April 20, 1937
Headquarters 3600 N Martin Luther King Avenue
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Employees 1,664 (FY11)
Annual budget $211 million (FY11)
Minister responsible Michael C. Thompson, Secretary of Safety and Security
Agency executive Michael C. Thompson, Commissioner
Child agencies Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP)
Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS)

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (ODPS) is a department of the government of Oklahoma. Under the supervision of the Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security, DPS provides for the safety of Oklahomans and the administration of justice in the state. DPS is responsible for statewide law enforcement, vehicle regulation, homeland security and such other duties as the Governor of Oklahoma may proscribe. DPS has the duty to provide for the protection and security of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

The Department is led by the Commissioner of Public Safety. The Commissioner is appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma, with the approval of the Oklahoma Senate, to serve at his pleasure. The current Commissioner is Michael C. Thompson, who was appointed by Governor Mary Fallin on January 10, 2011.

The Department of Public Safety was created during the term of Governor E. W. Marland.



The Public Safety Department is designed to enforce the law and defend the interests of the Oklahoma according to the law and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Oklahomans. The Department provides safety and security for Oklahoma's citizens through law enforcement and protection with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.


The Department of Public Safety traces its history almost as far back as statehood.

In 1912, there were only sixty-five hundred automobiles in the entire state. But by 1929, over 600,000 vehicles were being driven up and down state roads. Oklahoma had become a state on wheels, although the roads those wheels were rolling over were designed for horse and buggy travel. One clear indication of the arrival of the automobile age in Oklahoma was the shocking number of people killed in vehicular accidents - about five hundred a year by the mid-1920s.

The automobile also brought many of the nation's most infamous criminals into Oklahoma's borders. By the 1930s, Oklahoma became a criminal haven in much the same fashion as it was in its days as Indian Territory. The odds were stacked in the favor of the criminals as once across the county line, they were beyond the reach of local authorities. Criminals soon discovered that the same system of law enforcement that was powerless to halt the rising tide of traffic fatalities was equally inept at stopping them.

Governor E.W. Marland, the 10th Governor of Oklahoma, made a bid for a state police to the legislation and called it the Department of Public Safety. Marland prevailed over the hesitant legislation on April 20, 1937. In early May 1937 he had the basic framework on paper and issued a state-wide call for recruits to become Oklahoma's first highway patrolmen. About five hundred men answered the call. In the hard times of the Depression, the one hundred and fifty dollars a month salary was very attractive. By July 15, 1937 the Department of Public Safety was a functioning agency.


The Department is overseen by the Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security and is administered by the Commissioner of Public Safety. Under Governor Mary Fallin, Michael C. Thompson is serving concurrently as both Secretary and Commissioner. Secretary Thompson previously reached the rank of Major with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Office Incumbent Since
Cabinet Secretary Mike Thompson 2011
Commissioner Mike Thompson 2011
Assistant Commissioner Ricky Adams 2011
Chief of the Highway Patrol Kerry Pettingill 2011
Director of Homeland Security Kim Edd Carter 2011
Interim Director of Highway Safety J. Kevin Behrens 2011


The Governor of Oklahoma is the chief officer of the Department and the Commissioner of Public Safety its executive head. The Commissioner is responsible to the Governor for the operation and administration of the Department. The Commissioner is also charged with providing security details, transportation, and communications capabilities for the Governor, the Governor's immediate family, and the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma.

The Commissioner of Public Safety is appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Oklahoma Senate to serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Commissioner must be a professional law enforcement officer with at least ten years' experience in the field of law enforcement or with five years' experience in the field of law enforcement and a graduate of a four-year college with a degree in law enforcement administration, law, criminology or a related science.

The Commissioner appoints two principal deputies: an Assistant Commissioner of the Department and a Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The Assistant Commissioner is the second in command of the Department and is responsible for overseeing the civilian management staff of the Department. The Assistant Commissioner is also responsible for the operations of the Drivers License Administration. The Highway Patrol Chief serves as the professional head of the Patrol and is responsible for the capabilities, plans and operations of the Patrol.

Another primary officer of the Department is the Director of the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, who is appointed by the Governor and serves at his pleasure. The Commissioner and the Director both work directly with the Governor in a regular basis. Although not a requirements, the head of the Office is often an active member of the Highway Patrol. As such, the Director reports to the Chief of the Patrol.


  • Administrative Services - Provides central management services to support the entire mission of the Department
    • Wrecker Services Division - The Wrecker Services Division is responsible for the licensing and governance of wrecker or towing services. The division provides notification to owners and lien holders of the location of vehicles impounded at the request of law enforcement agencies within the state, and receives and maintains records of vehicles impounded from private property and of vehicles stored over thirty days by wrecker or towing services.
    • Finance Division - The Finance Division is responsible for paying the bills of the Department within its approved budget and accounting for and depositing receipts collected for fees, fines, penalties, and other monies as provided by law. The Division also processes sales of surplus and forfeited property, overseeing all purchases made by the Department, and for coordinating the Department's budget
    • Information Systems Division - Oversees, operates, and administers all IT oriented systems on the DPS network
    • Legal Division - The Legal Division provides legal services for the Department and administratively enforces Oklahoma's implied consent law
    • Records Management Division - The Records Management Division is the designated repository for all official traffic accident reports and records required to be submitted by law enforcement officers of municipal, county and state agencies, and for court abstracts and other records concerning motor vehicle and related convictions and offenses required to be reported by municipal and district courts. This division also ensures that appropriate entries from the above documents are made to the respective individual driver's record master file. This division is also responsible for providing documents available to the public under the provisions of the Oklahoma Open Records Act
    • Human Resources Division - The Human Resources Division is responsible for overseeing the personnel needs of the Department and serves as a liaison to the Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management
    • Property Management Division - The Property Management Division is responsible for management and maintenance of all properties under the control of the Department
    • Size and Weight Permit Division - The Size and Weight Permit Division is composed of civilian employees who issue appropriate permits for eligible oversize and overweight vehicles and loads
  • Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System Division - The Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (OLETS) is a statewide telecommunications network which serves city, county, state, federal, and military law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in Oklahoma. Additionally, OLETS provides direct computer interfaces to the computer systems of the Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS), and the National Weather Service Computer System and Network in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  • Driver License Services
    • Driver License Examining Division - The Driver License Examining Division issues permits for driver education instructors, administers tests for the purpose of issuing driver licenses, and provides administrative services related to the issuance and renewal of driver licenses and identification cards
    • Driver Compliance Division - The Driver Compliance Divion may suspend, deny, cancel, revoke, or disqualify individual driving privileges, subject to statutory authorization. The Division is also charged with enforcement of the provisions of driver financial responsibility laws and the State's Compulsory Insurance Law.
    • Commercial Driver License Program Administration - The CDL Program Administration is responsible for licensing and regulating commercial drivers, including driver qualification, HAZMAT Security Threat Assessment program and the licensing of truck driver training institutions.
    • Identity Verification Unit - The Identity Verification Unit is responsible for investigating and apprehending violators of State identification laws and those residing unlawfully in the State
  • Oklahoma Highway Patrol - The Oklahoma Highway Patrol provides safety and protection for the citizens on the highways of Oklahoma and other specialized law enforcement services
    • Field troops - Field troops of the Highway Patrol have primary law enforcement authority on state, federal, and interstate highways, excluding those portions within city limits.
    • Turnpike troops - Turnpike troops of the Highway Patrol have sole law enforcement authority on the turnpikes of this state.
    • Specialty troops - Specialty troops of the Highway Patrol perform specialized law enforcement functions within the scope of the mission and operation of the Department of Public Safety, including:
      • Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section - The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section has the primary duty of enforcing the provisions of the size, weight and load laws and rules.
      • Lake Patrol Section - The Lake Patrol Section has the primary duty of enforcing state boat registration laws, boating and water safety laws, federal regulations, and rules pertaining to Oklahoma lakes, rivers and adjacent shores.
      • Capitol Patrol Section - The Capitol Patrol Section has the primary duty of providing law enforcement services to all state buildings and properties within Oklahoma County, including the State Capitol Park, and Tulsa County, including the State Capitol Complex, and enforcing all parking, traffic, and criminal laws within the boundaries of Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties
      • Bomb Squad Section - The Bomb Squad Section has the primary duty of enforcing the laws and regulations related to the construction, transportation and usage of explosives not within the jurisdiction of another state agency.
      • Executive Security Section - The Executive Security Section is responsible for providing for the personal protection of the Governor, the Governor's family, the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor's Mansion.
    • Communications Division - The Communications Division is the link between the general public and public safety services provided by the Department and other law enforcement agencies or emergency providers. These services may be obtained by 911 emergency telephone services or in person at any of the thirteen Field Troop Headquarters statewide.
    • Transportation Division - The Transportation Division is responsible for the purchase, repair, and disposal of all Department vehicles. Repairs may be done at private facilities or at the Department garage with funding coordinated by the Division. Department vehicles are disposed of by sale to other law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma or by public auction.
    • Public Information Office - The Public Information Office acts as the liaison between the Department and the public, the media, and other city, county, state, and federal agencies. Information provided includes traffic safety campaigns, press releases, traffic statistics, road conditions, and services provided by each of the Department's divisions.
    • Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security - The Homeland Security Office is responsible for protecting the territory of Oklahoma from terrorist attack and responding to attacks should one occur.
    • Oklahoma Highway Safety Office - The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) is the state organization responsible for developing an annual statewide plan (Highway Safety Plan) to decrease fatalities and injuries on Oklahoma roadways. Each state has a highway safety program under the direction of the state governor. The OHSO administers federal highway safety funds in the form of highway safety projects with state and local agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private contractors.


The Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (OLETS) is a program of the Department of Public Safety. OLETS is an information sharing network that allows law enforcement agencies across the State access to both State databases as well as information from the various States as well as the Federal Government. The types of data on the system varies from motor vehicle and drivers' license data to state criminal history and correctional records.

OLETS gathers and distributes information from the following agencies:

In order for a local law enforcement agency to gain access to OLETS, it must first sign an agreement with the Department stating the terms and conditions of their access.


The Department of Public Safety, with an annual budget of over several hundred million dollars, is one of the larger employers of the State. For fiscal year 2009, the Department was authorized 1664 full time employees.[1]

Program Number of Employees
Administration 147
Homeland Security 18
Highway Safety 26
Law Enforcement 1133
Telecommunications 32
Drivers License 251
Motor Vehicle Operations 26
Size and Weight Permits 31
Total 1664


The Department of Public Safety is the tenth-largest State agency by annual appropriation. The Department receives the revenue for its budget from three major areas: yearly appropriations, grants from the federal government, and fees. For fiscal year 2010, appropriations made up 46%, federal funds made up 34%, and fees from the Department of Public Safety Revolving Fund made up 14%. The remaining 6% came from various sources.

Expenditures made by the Department are divided into three major areas: salaries and benefits for employees (54%), operation expenses (37%), and equipment (6%). The remaining 3% is used for various other expenses.

The divisions of the Department operation with the following operating budgets for Fiscal Year 2011:[2]

Program Funding (in millions)
Administration $22.6
Homeland Security $112.3
Highway Safety $30.1
Law Enforcement $117.3
Telecommunications $18.1
Drivers License $26.3
Motor Vehicle Operations $14.9
Size and Weight Permits $5.1
Total $348


The Commissioner of Public Safety and each officer of the Department of Public Safety are peace officers of the state. Officers have the powers and authority vested in all other state peace officers, including the power of search and seizure (except the serving of civil process), the power to investigate and prevent crime, and the general power to enforce the criminal laws of state. As peace officers, the Department's officers may arrest any person detected by them violating any law of the State.

In addition to their general police powers, the officers of the Department have the following specific powers and duties:

  • Enforcing all laws regulating the operation of motors vehicles or the use of the highways
  • Assisting in the location of stolen property
  • Assisting in or initiating manhunts or fugitive apprehensions
  • Investigating and preventing motor vehicle theft
  • Investigating and preventing drug transportation
  • Investigation and preventing identification fraud
  • Providing protection and security to State officials
  • Enforcing and investigating any other law when so directed by the Governor of Oklahoma

See also

Portal icon Oklahoma portal
Portal icon Law enforcement/Law enforcement topics portal


  1. ^ FY 2010 State Budget, Oklahoma Office of State Finance
  2. ^ FY10 Department of Public Safety Appropriations Bill, Oklahoma Legislature

External links

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