Arizona Ranger William K. Foster on right with Winchester Model 1895 rifle. Foster enlisted in the Rangers in 1903. Deputy Sheriff C. H. Farrnsworth is on left with Marlin rifle

The history of Arizona Rangers goes back to the early 20th century, when Arizona was still a territory and faced many challenges from outlaws and corruption. They were created by the territorial governor Alexander Brodie and the legislature in 1901 to deal with the rampant crime and violence that threatened the stability and prosperity of the region. They were modeled after the Texas Rangers. The first Arizona Ranger Captain was a rancher, but the second Captain, Thomas Ryning had a military background and had served alongside Teddy Roosevelt as one of the famed Rough Rider.

The Arizona Rangers were a small but elite force of well-trained and well-equipped lawmen who hunted down and arrested some of the most notorious criminals in the region. They also helped maintain order along the Mexican border and protected the interests of the territory. However, in 1909, the Arizona Rangers were disbanded by the new governor, Richard Sloan, who saw them as unnecessary and politically motivated. Arizona became a state in 1912, and for many years, the Arizona Rangers were forgotten.

Modern Day Arizona Rangers

In 1957, a group of former lawmen and citizens revived the Arizona Rangers as a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history and traditions of the original Rangers. They also began to offer their services as a law enforcement assistance auxiliary, working under the direction and supervision of established law enforcement agencies and officers.

In 2002, the state legislature passed a law that officially recognized the Arizona Rangers and authorized them to provide armed law enforcement assistance to any local, state, federal or tribal agency in Arizona. The Arizona Rangers also provide security services for community and civic organizations, as well as support for youth and youth organizations. The Arizona Rangers today are an unpaid, non-commissioned volunteer group that does not receive any government funding. They pay for their own training and equipment and follow a strict code of conduct. They are proud of their motto: Few but proud, then and now.

Arizona Ranger office in Tombstone, Arizona. Photo: Nothyself. Wikimedia. Cropped. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Code of Conduct

The code of conduct for Arizona Rangers is based on the seven General Orders that were developed by Captain Harry C. Wheeler, Captain Harry C. Wheeler, who was the leader of the original Arizona Rangers from 1907 to 1909. Wheeler was a former US Army officer who had served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War. He was appointed as the captain of the Arizona Rangers by Governor Joseph H. Kibbey, who wanted to reform the Ranger force and make it more professional and effective. Wheeler, who had the distinction of serving at every rank in the Rangers, brought discipline and idealism to the ranks.

He was known for his iron will and absolute honesty. He led the Rangers in many successful operations against outlaws, rustlers, smugglers, and other criminals. He also played a key role in suppressing the Bisbee Deportation, a labor dispute that turned violent in 1917. Wheeler resigned from the Rangers in 1918 and later became a judge and a politician.

The Seven General Orders:

1. To obey the orders of the Governor and the Captain and other officers appointed over me.

2. To respect and protect the rights and property of all persons, regardless of race, creed, or color.

3. To uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of the Territory of Arizona.

4. To maintain discipline, courage, and loyalty, and to perform my duties without fear, favor, or prejudice.

5. To report all violations of law and order that come to my knowledge, and to arrest and deliver to the proper authorities all persons engaged in such violations.

6. To keep myself in good physical condition, and to care for my arms, equipment, and horse as prescribed by regulations.

7. To conduct myself at all times in a manner that reflects credit upon myself, the Arizona Rangers, and the Territory of Arizona.

The modern-day Arizona Rangers follow these General Orders as a guide for their actions and behavior as law enforcement and assistance civilian auxiliaries. They also adhere to a strict uniform policy, a firearms qualification standard, and a chain of command structure. They are expected to act professionally, courteously, and respectfully at all times, and to uphold the motto: Few but proud, then and now.

Patch of the modern Arizona Rangers.

The Arizona Rangers have about 500 members, organized into 23 companies across the state. They receive no governmental funding and pay for their own training and equipment. They often assist police departments with tasks such as traffic control, surveillance, crime scene preservation, court security and prisoner transportation. They also provide resource officers for several schools throughout the state.

Joining the Arizona Rangers

If you are interested in joining the Arizona Rangers, you need to meet some basic requirements and go through a recruitment and training process. The basic requirements are:

  • Be at least 21 years of age with no criminal history.

  • Reside in Arizona for at least six months of the calendar year.

  • Hold a valid Arizona Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit.

  • Sincerely subscribe to the mission and objectives of the Arizona Rangers.

If you meet these requirements, you can contact your local Arizona Rangers company and express your interest. You will then need to complete a background check and an oral board interview. You will also need to meet physical fitness standards and graduate from the Arizona Ranger Training Academy (ARTA). The Arizona Rangers are an all-volunteer organization, so you will have to pay for your own uniforms, equipment, weapons, ammunition, transportation and monthly dues. You will also have to attend monthly company meetings and perform monthly duty hours. As an Arizona Ranger, you will have the opportunity to assist law enforcement agencies and serve your community while preserving the tradition and history of the original Arizona Rangers.


Arizona Rangers

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


By Eugene Nielsen

Eugene Nielsen owns and runs a private intelligence and security consulting firm. He has a BA degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Political Science. His byline has appeared on over 1,500 articles published in major national and international journals and magazines. He was on Contributing Staff of SWAT Magazine for over 20 years.

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