Thu, Oct 23, 2014
2:00pm - 3:00pm
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom
DPS Investigator James Thomas is a member of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force.James Thomas has made a career at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and in education, rising to become a member of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force while earning an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.
“Education helps you stay ahead of the curve as it relates to crime,” said Dr. Thomas. “I truly believe it led me to where I am today. It allows me to be a better leader, to understand people, crime and patterns of crime. I want to use technology to create a new program that helps people avoid crime, gangs and violence.”
Thomas investigated drug cases for DPS. Thomas began his career with DPS in 2001, serving in highway patrol in Chambers and Harris counties. During his 9-1/2 years on patrol, he worked traffic and fatalities, enforced traffic laws, and handled cases from drugs to drunken drivers.
In 2011, he was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division, where he specialized in gangs. He also assisted in cases involving human trafficking, money laundering, and violent crimes.
In April 2013, he was appointed to the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force, a multi-agency initiative headed by the U.S. Marshals Service which tracks down and arrests some of the most violent offenders in the area. He has been involved in many arrests, like the case of Joshua Worlds, who shot his ex-girlfriend in the head and fled from police. He was traced to a vacant home in Webster and committed suicide as the team raided the home. His 26-year old victim, Jeannette Ochoa, died a week later in the hospital.
Thomas was a member of the Regional Special Response Team.The case was featured on “Marshal Law: Texas” on TNT in 2013.
Thomas served on the Texas Ranger Company A Special Response Team, a regional SWAT team that responds to barricaded suspects, school shootings, efforts to locate offenders, and border operations. The skills he developed on the team and at DPS – being a well-rounded officer, being able to conduct raids, and being tactically trained in weapons – helped him get the assignment with the Task Force.
Thomas stands next to a armored vehicle used by the SRT.Thomas continues to serve as a firearms instructor at the DPS Training Academy, teaching recruits how to use the three weapons assigned to troopers, including the .357 SIG Sauer, the Remington Shotgun and the M4 rifle.
While pursuing his career on the streets working gangs, Thomas received a Master’s degree in Behavioral Science, which has helped him in the field to understand human and criminal behavior.
“We see a ‘normal’ pattern for fugitives – where they go and where they run to,” said Dr. Thomas. “It has helped me figure out how to do my job with the least amount of danger to other officers, myself, the suspect and the public.”
Thomas earned an Ed.D. degree, In 2011, Thomas decided to pursue his Ed.D. degree to examine the issue of African American adolescents and how environmental factors influence their decisions to get involved with gangs, drugs, violence and crime. He graduated in May and hopes to turn that research into a program to provide youth with alternatives to gangs and help those in gangs to get out of them.
For Thomas, education is key in the process. He continues to draw inspiration from students and recently participated at the CJ Summer Camp, which provides exposure to different jobs in the criminal justice field to high school students.
Thomas paroles the Mexican border.“I am excited to talk to students,” said Dr. Thomas. “Our future is now being built at the best universities in the country. I want to make sure they can do their jobs, unimpeded by violence.”