Austin, TX (KWKT) — The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today commissioned its newest airplane, a Cessna 208 Caravan, at a ceremony in Austin. The aircraft was named in honor of the late DPS Agent Patrick Allen Randel, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1974.
“Agent Randel was a man who took the DPS mission to heart and whose selfless service to this department and Texas will always be honored,” said Public Safety Commission Chair Cynthia Leon. “His valiant commitment to protecting the lives of others cost him his own, and there is no greater sacrifice than that.”
Agent Randel, who worked in the DPS Narcotics Service, was shot and killed by two drug dealers during an undercover operation near George West, Texas, in October of 1974.
“I am humbled by the men and women who commit their lives to law enforcement and willingly put themselves in harm’s way every day,” said Sen. Craig Estes, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security. “It is a special moment for Texas when we take time to honor those individuals, like Agent Patrick Randel, who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the people of this state.”
“Keeping Texans safe, in many cases, hinges on two necessities – dedicated personnel and the tools to do the job,” said Rep. Joe Pickett, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. “Thankfully, we have both – with courageous individuals like DPS Agent Randel, who selflessly served this state, and with equipment like this state-of-the-art aircraft named in his honor that will carry out a variety of public safety missions to protect Texas.”
The Cessna 208 Caravan, which accommodates as many as two pilots and eight passengers, can reach an altitude of 25,000 feet and travel as fast as 210 mph. It features state-of-the-art equipment, including an L-3 camera system with an infrared/color video camera, and an AeroComputer mapping system with the ability, for example, to map the area around a fire or assist in search and rescue.
The Patrick Randel ultimately will be stationed in McAllen and replaces an older Cessna previously stationed in that region. This multi-purpose, fixed-wing airplane will be used for a variety of public safety missions across Texas, including transporting medical equipment, supplies and response teams during a disaster; aerial observation support; and serving as an aerial command center. The aircraft was paid for with seized funds.
“Agent Patrick Randel dedicated his career and life to upholding the DPS mission to protect and serve Texas. I believe it is a fitting tribute that this plane will be an invaluable asset in supporting and advancing that same mission,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “The Patrick Randel joins a technologically advanced aircraft fleet that is instrumental in disrupting criminal activity and enhancing public safety.”
With the addition of this new airplane, the DPS aircraft fleet now totals 23 – with eight planes and 15 helicopters committed to public safety missions.